An informal school started on January 22, for the children of farmers has now turned "pathshala" for the children of ragpickers at the Ghazipur Border protest site. This initiative was started after the children present at the protest site were missing their school.
Members of the Mata Savitribai Phule Mahasabha launched the school in order to educate the children at the protest side. After that, members from the local organisers started teaching ragpicker's children who were frequently seen around the protest site.
As of now, there are over 90 local students in the pathshala. Radha (10) one of the students of pathshala said, "I left my previous school because my father cannot afford the fees. I don't have a mother and my father works as a ragpicker. I like this school better than my previous one."
"This is the first school I am attending. I am learning alphabets and numeric," said Lakho (11) a child of a tea seller in Vaishali.
The classes are held in two shifts - 10-12 in the morning and 4-6 in the evening. The students between 4 and 12-year-old are attending pathshala at present. In case any students had prior knowledge of reading and writing, they are given personal assistance. The organisers said they don't accept monetary donations and instead only take educational donations such as pencils, books, notebook etc.
Nirdesh Singh, one of the organisers said, "The protest has replaced the pannis (wrappers) and rags from the shoulders of these children with pencils and copies".
A whiteboard with alphabets and numerics are tools for education inside the tent. And at the bottom of the board, a slogan says "Shiksha ka humko adhikaar, sabko shiksha dey sarkar (we have a right to education, the government should provide education to all)."
Mata Savitribai Phule Mahasabha, an NGO based in Moradabad has been relentlessly working in the field of women empowerment and education for around 10 years now. "This initiative is not a temporary one, it has long - term goals. For this, we have all the relevant information about the children who are studying. We want to ensure that after the protests they will not be left stranded and will be enrolled in government schools under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota," said Dev Kumar one of the members of the organisation.