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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Makeshift school in temple for underprivileged children in Ambala

SP Sharma, a retired economics professor from SD College Ambala Cantonment, started running a makeshift school from a nearby temple in 2015 after he found out about the slum dwellers near Tangri river who were living in absolute poverty.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 28, 2019 22:27 IST
Sunil Rahar
Sunil Rahar
Hindustan Times, Ambala
With 100% illiteracy rate, these slum dwellers had no hope of upward mobility and the children too were caught in the vicious cycle.
With 100% illiteracy rate, these slum dwellers had no hope of upward mobility and the children too were caught in the vicious cycle.(HT Photo)
         

For 14-year-old Neha, going to school was a distant dream. Born to ragpicker parents, she used to collect garbage in Ambala cantonment for several years before a 62-year-old retired government professor convinced her to attend school like other children her age. He even convinced her parents to send her to the makeshift school he set up in a temple in Ambala.

From watching other children head to school, Neha has come a long way. She is now at par with every school student her age. “I know everything about the voting process in a democracy, constitution, fundamental rights and even the difference between a municipal corporation and municipal committee,” she says excitedly, adding, “It’s all been possible because of Sharma sir.”

SP Sharma, a retired economics professor from SD College Ambala Cantonment, started running a makeshift school from a nearby temple in 2015 after he found out about the slum dwellers near Tangri river who were living in absolute poverty. With 100% illiteracy rate, these slum dwellers had no hope of upward mobility and the children too were caught in the vicious cycle.

“I started the school with 15 students. Now we have 108 students. We initially didn’t even have proper blackboards and used the temple’s walls to write. Now some NGOs have come forward to finance us,” says Sharma who earlier used to spend money from his own pocket to buy books and stationery items for students.

Vishal, a BA final year student, who has been teaching these students for the past two years says, “I teach here for about three hours a day with the hope of playing a small part in improving these children’s lives.”

Hailing the initiative, Ambala district education officer (DEO) Ravinder Kumar said, “Prof Sharma has imparted education to several slum children and transformed their lives. It is a good initiative.”

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 22:27 IST

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