"Fascinated with simplifying the complicated and writing on the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Also, a hodophile."
The COVID-19 pandemic has puzzled the country's education system with numerous challenges.
Whether it is attending the classes, conducting examination or capping of screen time, students and the teachers are facing difficulties adapting to the digitalisation but the national capital is also home to a teacher who, in his attempt to ensure education to the underprivileged students, runs an open-air classroom below a partially built flyover.
The teacher, Satyendra Pal, can be found standing with his whiteboard and half a dozen children equipped with face masks, sitting on the floor looking dedicatedly at the teacher.
Satyendra's affordable education model is primarily for the students who have been worst hit, firstly, due to poverty, and secondly, due to the coronavirus-induced problems.
Students, mostly in their early teens, attend Pal's classes to get educated even though the schools in the country have been shut as a measure to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
Even though the government has pushed for classes to move online, a 2017-2018 government report has highlighted that only a staggering 23.8 per cent of households have access to the internet in the country.
The teacher has an interesting tale behind his mission of affordable education to all. Satyendra, who is a maths graduate, hails from a village in Uttar Pradesh and said that he was inspired to teach because of his faith in Buddhism.
He began teaching a dozen kids in 2015 under a tree in the slum, but by early this year he had some 300 students.
"I take whatever they give," he said, reported The Tribune.
Satyendra's students are mainly slum-dwellers and many have to spend their days helping parents as farmhands after classes. There is reportedly no power in the area, and the water supply is irregular.
With the help of locals, he built an indoor classroom inside a hut. "I stopped the classes in March because it was too dangerous, but parents requested me to teach again," he said.
He restarted the classes in July for a limited number of students ensuring social distancing and the other prevention measures. Charities helped to provide for masks and sanitisers.
"Our school has online classes, but there is no proper internet here," said Preeti, a Class X public school student who attends Satyendra's class. "I could not study on my own. I do feel scared about the virus but I am also worried about exams."
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