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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Mumbra station: Platform school on track with 30 students

For the past one month, volunteers and teachers have been going around the platform and counselling parents about the importance of education

mumbai Updated: Jan 13, 2019 10:14 IST
Ankita G Menon
Ankita G Menon
Hindustan Times
The school opened a month ago.
The school opened a month ago. (Praful Gangurde/ HT Photo)

As a queue of 30 students wait to enter their school, they are eager to take part in learning activities and educational games.

A month ago, they were either selling goods in trains or begging. They were hungry most of the time.

Not anymore.

The platform school, which opened in December, has ensured the children education and a better life.

As they take their seats in a brightly painted school — a container outside platform number two at Mumbra station, even the teachers are happy with the result.

“I like to study. In the past few weeks since I joined, I learnt counting till 20 in English. It is fun,” said Jasmine, 7.

Twelve-year-old Ashmera still sells small knick knacks with her mother at Mumbra station. After sometime, she rushed to the classroom and joined her friends.

Colourful benches and desk lend a vibrant and cheerful atmosphere to the class. Some toys in the school too are a crowd-puller.

For the past one month, volunteers and teachers have been going around the platform and counselling parents about the importance of education.

“We managed to gather seven students initially. Now, we have 30 students. Children, who hardly get two square meals a day, are also lured by the midday meal provided by the TMC. If they spend three hours in school, they need not focus on earning money for lunch,” said Farzana Kazi, volunteer and teacher at the platform school.

Based on their age and schooling, they will be trained and prepared to appear for exams. It will focus on the overall development of children with the help of skill development and grooming sessions as well as health and hygiene camps.

A 10-year-old girl was addicted to gutkha.

“As they live on the streets, it becomes difficult to control them. Many of them live on the footpath or on the platform. We are helping her kick the habit,” said Kazi.

Students have started coming to school dressed neatly. They have learnt not to litter and wash their hands before and after a meal.

“I learnt to draw the Tricolour today. I also like to complete my homework. I want to learn English. Initially, my parents were not keen that I attend school but because I get lunch, they need not worry about one meal,” said Ashmera.

Teacher speak

On Thursday, the school conducted a medical camp for students, who underwent a thorough check-up.

“Initially, we conducted classes only for one and a half hours in the afternoon when the children are usually free and can attend school. Now, we teach them for almost three hours and focus on games and fun activities,” said Shaista Ismail Baig, a teacher at platform school.

Children spend most of their time in drawing, coloring and playing games. Building blocks and similar educational games are mostly the focus. “They are gradually getting used to sitting for so long in the school and hence we have gradually started including alphabets and numbers in the academics routine,” added Baig.

“We have started on a positive note. They need individual attention and care so a strict academic pattern cannot be followed,” said Manish Joshi, deputy municipal commissioner, TMC

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 00:59 IST