From a high paying teaching job in Delhi to starting up a coaching centre in a small town in Rajasthan; from 2 students to 3,500 students and over 50 employees under his roof; Dr. Farman Ali has seen it all.
After finishing his MA in Hindi from Jamia Millia Islamia and his Ph.D from JNU, Farman started teaching students at the Motilal Nehru College at Delhi University. He even went on to teach students at the Rajasthan University. Although happy with his respectable job, the desire to give back to society and the ambition to build something bigger than himself kept him on his toes. He went back to his home town, Alwar, and started a coaching centre.
Farman was well aware of the problems related to education in Alwar. He personally knew of students who were talented and interested, but could not compete with students from the rest of the country in the highly competitive entrance exams. As a result, these students either settled for smaller jobs in and around Alwar, or gave up on their studies. Farman wanted to help them.
In 2009, Farman left his job and started the Rajasthan Institute in Alwar. He received ample support from his family, especially his father, who encouraged him to go ahead with his plans. Farman claims that most people in Alwar were not well educated and those who completed their higher studies preferred staying in cities and making a career for themselves. When he left his lucrative career and came home, he too was laughed at.
Farman was keen to improve the lives of young students in his town. He had only two students to start his journey with. But soon the word spread, and more students joined in. Young boys and girls from remote villages also joined his institute with the hope for a better future. Through consistency in the quality of teaching, and word of mouth publicity, soon Rajasthan Institute became popular among the students of Alwar.
Today 3,500 students are a part of his institution and they are being coached for different competitive exams. There are 20 teachers in the institute and 32 non-teaching staff. Students who receive training here are now placed in state and central government services, administrative services, educational institutions, and the police force. The education fees is nominal and fits the budget of the small town families. Farman tells us, “A lot of children from Rajasthan have their fathers serving the Indian army. Some have even sacrificed their lives in service to the nation. We provide free education to children of these men as a way to express our gratitude towards them. Additionally, we also provide free coaching to children of widows. We also have elaborate plans to help children with disability.”
A social activist
Farman is also a patron of art, literature, and cultural events in Alwar. Interestingly, he is a member of the group which performs Ramleela in Alwar every year, and conducts the first prayers before the play begins every year. He frequents the villages around Alwar and guides young students and parents alike.For the past several years, he has been spending a good part of his time among villagers living around Alwar. He has been spreading awareness on the need for education and trying to help and counsel children and parents for their better future. He also works with small schools and NGOs in these regions to ensure education is not constrained only to those who can afford it.
Farman and his wife actively participate in social activities aimed at uplifting of the people of Alwar. His wife frequently visits villages and educates women on health and hygiene related issues. Their door is always open for women with medical problems who are hesitant to visit a doctor, are unaware of the medical facilities, or cannot afford treatment.
A meaningful life
Till date, Farman has not sought funds or grants for the work he has done for Alwar and its people. All costs are borne by the money he makes in running the Rajasthan Institute. He leads a very busy life but finds meaning in it. He leaves home early, teaches students in the institute for 12 hours, and then spends the rest of the day in nearby villages educating and counselling impoverished children, before he reaches home late in the night. His holidays too are spent among village children.
Farman believes that, “Education is the solution to all our problems. If India wishes to become a better country, then we all will have to work together and spread the light of education to each and every village and town in India. It is not only the responsibility of the government, but us concerned citizens too.”
In a society where the education divide is prominent, where private education can only be afforded by the rich and public schools lack infrastructure and teaching staff, Farman’s vision and work is noteworthy. His fight to bring quality education to the doorstep of the marginalized will open the doors of opportunity for the larger populace. We hope more entrepreneurs follow in his footsteps.
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