With a pencil in one hand and an eraser in the other, 13-year-old Deepak Kumar is hunched over his sketchbook busy drawing one of his favourite mythological figures, Lord Shiva. Deepak is a student of the Jan Jagriti Educational and Cultural Society, a charitable institution which imparts education to students belonging to the economically weaker sections of society.
Deepak is one of 50 odd students who come to this evening school in sector 21 on weekdays between 4-6 pm where they are given tuition classes in all major subjects in addition to learning dance and karate from licensed instructors for no charge.
“All the faculty here contribute their time and efforts apart from their busy schedules. They come here and teach these children free of cost,” 50-year-old Nutan Chaturvedi, who runs the institution, said.
Shanta Malla, has been teaching at the school for the past year. A student of Delhi University pursuing her BA degree, Malla says that the experience has not only allowed her to impart knowledge to the young learners but she has in turn learnt a lot about life through her students.
“I love doing this. I learn something new every day,” Malla said
“The institution was founded in 2003 by my parents in their home in Faridabad because they wanted to contribute to society in whichever way they could. In 2007 they had the Society registered and it has been up and running ever since,” Chaturvedi, who is a teacher at one of the private schools in Noida, said.
After her mother and father passed away, Chaturvedi wanted to continue their legacy and their vision to help out the economically weaker sections of society. She, along with her two daughters Swati (26) and Sukriti (25), have been holding this evening school for the past year on the terrace of their apartment.
Deepak, a natural at drawing and painting figures of gods and goddesses, is one of the few students at the institution who isn’t enrolled in any of the schools. His father is a sweet seller while his mother cooks at a roadside eatery. Never having been admitted to any school, now it has become difficult for him to get enrolment.
“In such situations we aim to teach the students according to school syllabus especially the tougher subjects like maths and science so that they are able to give their tenth examinations from open and then continue their studies further,” Chaturvedi explained.
Deepak has just finished his portrait of Lord Shiva, ask him about where he gets his inspiration and he says “I emulate whatever I watch on screen.” Since his parents watch religious and mythology based shows, the gods figure in majority of his paintings. “I want to become a well renowned artist,” he happily states.
Most of the other students come here in an attempt to get the extra attention which they aren’t able to get due to constrictions and class sizes of private and government schools and also because the atmosphere at their homes is not conducive for learning.
“The most difficult part is to convince the parents. We have to counsel them that education is very important,” Swati states.
In an attempt to make these students more self reliant, Chaturvedi is also starting vocational courses for the students from next month to make them employable in the work scenario.
“We are starting vocational training in computers, stitching and parlour work so that they are able to get jobs on their own. Things like basic data entry and computer applications will help them in getting employment,” Chaturvedi stated.