Babar Ali – because one can begin teaching whenever one wants to

“I realised they had never attended school due to lack of finances. Plus, our village didn’t have good schools. Even I used to travel about 10 kms up and down every day to attend school,” recalls Babar Ali, who is from Murshidabad in West Bengal.

Babar did not recognise at the time that his concern for these children would change not only his own life but that of hundreds of other children who did not have the opportunity to attend school. He was lucky that his father, a jute trader, could send him to school, an opportunity not many kids of his age in his village had.

At nine, when most kids cannot even do their own homework, Babar started a school of his own and became probably the youngest headmaster in the world.

“I was a class 5 student then. I got together eight young kids and started teaching them after returning from my school. I just thought I’ll teach them what I learnt in class,” says Babar.

This is how Babar’s makeshift school started under a guava tree in his own backyard where, everyday, a few village kids would wait for him to return from his school. He would, like a dedicated teacher, come back straight to his house from school and talk about what he had learnt there.

Babar would take broken pieces of chalk from his school after classes, and use terracotta tiles at home to make a blackboard. He didn’t require any fancy resources to run his school; all he needed was his students’ passion to study.

“When my teacher found out about my home school, she started giving me a full box of chalk,” Babar says with a smile.

He is 21years old now, has six teachers working with him, and also has 10 volunteers who contribute to his school on a regular basis. His school now goes up to class 8.

“It wasn’t easy. Especially because I was so young. People would often doubt my intentions and say that I was trying to mislead the kids. But it was because of my students’ belief in me and my family’s support that I managed to continue my work,” he says.

For a long time, Babar ran the school using his own pocket money and some support from his family. But then, as his work started becoming well known, the Ramakrishna Mission began to help him out and gave him basic necessities like books and stationery for the kids. He has also started receiving a few donations to run his school now.

Babar, who has completed his graduation in English, is now pursuing a Masters of Arts degree.

Back to top button