Published: 23rd September 2020
Here's how this 17-year-old from Noida started a school to teach underprivileged kids for free
Armaan started a small school and educational centre in Noida to specifically cater to the poor sections of the society. We find out more
Armaan wants to open over a thousand free schools for the underprivileged so that they get opportunities to learn and educate themselves. He sounds quite special, right? Armaan Singh Ahluwalia (17), currently a Class 12 student at DPS RK Puram in Noida has been running a free school for poor children near his area since 2015. He wishes to curb illiteracy, inequality and open the world of opportunities to these children by providing free education.
Armaan started a small school and educational centre in Noida to specifically cater to the poor sections of the society. Called Apne, the school welcomes 30- 40 students daily and the number rises up to 50 on weekends when Armaan and his family spend nearly six hours teaching them.
While kids of his age spent time relaxing and playing after school, Armaan put efforts into developing this small space that now teaches more than 200 street kids. The children call him teacher bhaiya. We ask Armaan what made him come up with something like this, to which he responds, "One day while travelling, a child knocked at my car window asking for money, that's when I asked my parents why they don't go to school like me or play with their friends? I was quite young at that point and didn't know the complexities of life. My mother told me they are underprivileged and don't have the means to do so. I wanted to do something for them. With the help of my parents, we began a school called Apne to teach the nearby slum kids and underprivileged who do not have access to primary education, for free."
Armaan's mother, Dr Tarvinder Kaur Ahluwalia, who also helps him with managing the school and his own academics tells us that he started this initiative when he was in Class 8. "When they get whatever they need and are privileged, children don't get to know or understand what these children on the roads are going through, how they are leading their lives. We explained to him the scenario. He told me why don't you teach them, you have free time. In response, I asked him why he himself can't teach? We have quite a spacious house in sector 108 in Noida and when Armaan wanted to do something, we thought of converting that into a school. Sector 105 has a huge slum, we went spoke to the kids there and told them that we will teach for free so the parents were okay with that," she adds.
Armaan and his mother teach the children basic English, Maths and also groom them to learn basic etiquette. Armaan also teaches them football as he himself is a sports enthusiast. The school also provided meals to them every day initially. "We got them new schoolbags and stationery. We teach them for 6-7 months, groom them and then get them admitted to the government schools after that or help their parents to admit them. We know some of the principal of the nearby schools so they know we will come with these children. We are trying to make them understand that education is very important," adds Armaan's mother.
The school teaches children from age seven onwards and has had older students who might have had prior formal education but dropped out of school due to various reasons. Armaan says, “I absolutely love the company of these kids. I think the school is truly changing their lives as attendance is ever-increasing.” Armaan wants to become an economist when he grows up and bring substantial change in the Indian economy by making it the strongest and help eradicate inequality.