Project Why all stars

The class X and XII results are out! As always all our kids have passed! As always they have done us proud! For me it was the moment to walk down memory lane, to the day when it all began. It was in 2001 when we ran spoken English classes for primary and secondary children. In one of the classes were a bunch of class X lads from the nearby secondary school named no1. One day one of them turned up with what looked like welt marks on his arms. It turned out that he had been beaten with a stick by his teacher for some sundry gaffe that at best should have entailed a verbal admonition.

Not conversant with the realities prevailing in Government school. I set out with a few colleagues to find out what happened and expressed my dismay at the use of corporal punishment that I knew had been declared illegal following a Court Order. The school looked like something out of Dickens novel with grim corridors and masters wielding heavy sticks. The Principal sat behind a huge desk in a huge room his stick lying on his desk. He listened to us with what seemed like amused contempt and then asked for the boys in question to be called. They came, with their heads bowed wondering what would befall on them next. The dour Principal looked at them with disdain and asked us why we were wasting   time on such guttersnipes who would never be able to pass their exams. I do not know why but my immediate reaction was to look at the boys and ask them whether they were ready to take on a challenge to prove their Headmaster wrong. I will never forget the way the boys' body language changed and the beaming smiles on their face and the loud yes Maa'am!

It was then that I realised what my on the spot decision entailed. What was I thinking.We had scant resources to pay any teacher or rent space. But I had to walk the talk.

The reason I chose this picture to illustrate this blog was that we began our classes the very next morning on the pavement and the teacher was Naresh - who still teaches at pwhy - who had completed his BA and was looking for a job. He had a passion for teaching and had been tutoring children. I told him we could not pay him at this moment but would do as soon as possible, but it was a matter of honour that these kids pass their Xth. It was already December and the exams were in March. We had no time to waste.

Classes were held from 7 to 9 am on cold winter mornings. Rani's family provided tea to warm the kids up. Naresh roped in a friend and the two of them did the impossible: all kids passed and I won my challenge. My honour was intact.

That was more than  a decade ago. Since we have had 11 batches who have all cleared  their Boards and are in good jobs. The boy with the welts is now father of a little boy and all set to immigrate to Australia after having completed his higher education.

This year again 16 class X students and 16 class XII students have passed their Boards with success. Deepak, Arvind, Vikas and Vineet topped their respective schools.

I guess the challenge I took over a decade ago was not foolhardy.

Well done Kids and we love you Naresh Sir!