Published: 21st October 2020
This 80-year-old IIT Bombay alum and his wife are running online tuitions for underprivileged kids in Karnataka. This is their amazing story
Currently, 100 students are attending Badrinath and Indira's free online classes. A few more students wants to be part of it hence they are in the process of getting smart phones for them from donors
When Badrinath Vittal and his wife Indira Vittal started providing free tuitions to the children of their maid at home, they never thought that they would one day end up coaching 100 students. But it did not happen through any advertisements or social media campaign. The message of this old couple providing tuitions for free spread through word of mouth.
Badrinath is an 80-year-old MTech graduate from IIT Bombay and has worked as a hydraulic engineer in major dam construction projects across India. He says, "We were teaching these two children because our cook has to spend extra money on tuitions. For this, she would borrow money from us and other people. With the salary they earn, it is difficult for them to afford expensive tuitions. Hence, my wife and I decided to help her children by providing free tuition classes at our home. While my wife took care of languages, I taught them the core subjects like Maths and Science. This has been happening for more than six years now. While the older child is studying class 12, the younger one is in class 6 and they are doing well in academics."
While everything was going well, things changed when the lockdown happened due to the pandemic. Though the kids wanted to study, there was no one to help them with. Hence, the Badrinath and Indira moved to conducting online classes to these two kids. "We provided the children with smart phones which was donated by me and one of my friends. As the word spread about the free online classes, kids belonging to the poor families requested us to conduct the classes for them also. These kids were from different parts of Karnataka and we were equally happy to teach them. But most of them didn't have smartphones. As a result, we asked few of our friends and philanthropists to donate phones or laptops to these deserving kids. By the time this process was completed, the word had spread to hundreds of students."
Badrinath and Indira's mobile phone and landline were buzzing with calls requesting them to conduct online classes. The couple prepared a list of students including their age, name of the school and so on. Now, the list had 100 students and they were divided into different batches through the day. Badrinath explains, "At the same time, we got volunteers who are retired professors and school teachers from different parts of Karnataka. I divided the batches according to the number of students and the subject that we will teach for that particular day. We teach students from class 4 to 12 and it is for free. Some of these students are from Doddaballapur, Chikkaballapur and other places near Bengaluru."
Yesterday, another 30 students from Haveri also joined these free online tutorials. And Badrinath has been completely busy in planning the schedule for six of their volunteer teachers. This resident of Bengaluru, says, "Our intention is to help poor students so that their academic don't go waste due to school shutdown. After knowing about our initiative, a friend of mine donated a smartphone to one of the security guard's daughters. This girl is also part of our online classes. Similarly, a retired teacher also donated a smartphone to one of our students. I am also in the process of making a list of deserving students who are willing to attend classes and need a phone. This list is being shared among philanthropists and people who are capable of donating money or buying a phone for our students."