It was on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago that I met Mr. Aakash Handikherkar. Now you might be wondering who is Mr. Aakash Handikherkar. Well, he is the founder and director of Matrubhumi Education Society. It is the trust which runs the school where I am currently volunteering.
To give you a brief introduction. Mr. Aakash Handikherkar hails from a village named Handikher in the Latur district of Maharashtra. He was born on 19th September 1955. He holds a Masters degree in Arts and a Masters in Education has been part of the education field for the past three decades. He is the Principal of Chogle High School, Borivali (east) for the past 20 years.
He founded the Matrubhumi Education Trust in 1993. He had the earnest desire to provide education to under-privileged children in a slum. He founded the Marathi medium primary school in 1994 under the trust banner. The response was not very encouraging. People did not know whether it was a school or a day-care center. He founded the high school in 1995. Seeing the poor response and to convince the parents of the authenticity of the school, he enrolled his own children in the school. This proved his commitment towards the school to the locals. It takes a lot of gumption to actually walk the talk. Hats off to him. Over the years the school has grown and now there are nearly 600 students ranging from 1st grade to 10th grade, mostly from economically backward class.
Meeting him proved to me that there are people who sacrifice their own comforts for a noble cause. He was truly an inspiration and a living proof that even a single individual can make a difference. These are the people who quietly go about getting the job done, without the usual hoopla associated with charitable work.
India surely needs more such people.
We met again on 5th April. The exams were over and all the students were in a happy mood. A few of the boys were missing. However, it was heartening to see that all the girls were right on time.
There had been a gap of 2 weeks since the last session. We revised what we had done in the previous class. Also there was a new addition to our class, a girl student. We did some more revision for her benefit. I had prepared separate folders with worksheets for beginning letter sounds. We identified each picture, and matched it with the beginning letter sounds. We talked about each object which gave the students a chance to learn about new things. For eg. There was a picture of a whale in one of the worksheets. After we had matched it to the beginning letter sound, we talked more about it. What kind of an animal it is, why it is not a fish, where is it found etc.
I find that the students take a great interest in knowing things not from a study point of view but just for information. It also helps them to increase their vocabulary.
There were six sheets in all. We did 3 in class and the rest they have to do on their own. We will review them in the next class on 12th April.
On the first day of class we had 12 students, selected by the Principal of the school. However, it came to my notice that the remaining students of the 4th grade were feeling left out.
So now there is a new plan. The school will be out for the summer vacation for two months. It is decided that all the IV grade students will now be given an option to join the class. It will not be made compulsory to attend but a question of choice. But once the student is in, he/she cannot quit.
Depending on the number of students, we will move to a bigger classroom. The class will be divided into two/three groups and they will attend the class separately on different days. This will give me access to a larger number of students. Most importantly no one will be left out.