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Dropout on education mission

JHARKHAND : For 30 years, a class V dropout mason has been running a free school up to class VII in Bokaro district of Jharkhand. Parshuram Ram, 68, says he decided to act when he saw a contractor shouting at a woman laborer for feeding her child during work hours. Ram started out with 20 primary children, which has now increased to more than 150 students up to class 7. The classes ran from makeshift cottages, which were demolished by the local municipal body.

Looking at his dedication, others came forward with finances. The school currently has four teachers, who are given an honorarium from the donations collected from local businessmen and others. Not only is he educating them ‘free’ but is also providing them with study material. Ram said the sight of a laborer woman feeding her child led to a conviction within him that a laborer’s child needs not be a helpless laborer.

“I was shocked to hear the contractor asking the woman laborer to concentrate only on her work for which she is paid for, and not on feeding her child. He also asked her not to stop the work,” said Ram.
“It was a very tough task for me because I was myself a dropout daily wager. But I was determined,” says Ram. With the help of others, he started school at a clay hut in 1997 with nearly 20 such children. Their number has gone up to 157,” says Ram.

Parshuram frequently visits nearby slums in his attempt to create awareness about education, besides encouraging parents to send their children to school. More than 4,500 children have passed out from this school and are doing well.

He says five people, including three women, work as teachers in his small school. Among them, Mamata Singh is a housemaker who has been teaching regularly for the last 10 years. “It gives us inner satisfaction to teach such students who don’t have any other means to get an education. Even though I don’t earn from teaching, I have all the support from my husband,” says Mamata. “Children of daily wagers and housemaids, who cannot afford even a government school, come to us to study.”

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