Although Rajesh Kumar Sharma is a shopkeeper, he is popularly known as ‘masterji’ in his neighbourhood. For the past six years, Delhi-based Sharma has been teaching hundreds of slum children under a metro bridge near the Yamuna Bank metro depot.
This unique ‘Under the Bridge’ school has no building. Children sit on mats, while teachers use plastic chairs. Boundary walls of neighbouring buildings, coated with black paint, serve as black boards. The students have taken the liberty to paint their school with beautiful colours to make the place look even more lively.
Sharma has an interesting story. He wanted to become an engineer, but couldn’t because of his family’s poor financial condition. It’s what led him to give others a chance at an education and led to the formation of his school. Sharma told Hindustan Times, “Back in the 1989, I had to drop out after the first year of college in Aligarh due to worsening financial condition of my family. When I passed out of class 12 in the science stream, I too dreamt of becoming an engineer. That unfulfilled dream has turned into this school.”
Although he started alone, today Sharma is accompanied by many volunteers who help him teach his students. Saturdays are reserved for sports. “People from different walks of life visit us on Saturdays and encourage the kids to play games like Kabbadi, Volleyball, Football, and Cricket. However, an hour’s study is mandatory,” Rajesh told The Weekend Leader.
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