Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
Upendra Kumar is probably one of the youngest teachers in Laralutugad village in Jharkhand's Chatra district. Every day, a class comprising of at least 60 students gather in an abandoned school in the village to attend free-of-cost classes from Kumar.
The 18-year-old teacher, however, is a class 12 student and is physically challenged. Despite facing challenges in mobility, Kumar did not let his disability deter him from chasing his dreams. At a time when the country's education system has undergone a digital shift and students residing in far-flung areas are struggling to keep up, this teenager believes that their education should not be stopped due to any reason.
He has to travel a distance of one kilometre to reach his class. According to Prabhat Khabar, Kumar sought help from the welfare department to get access to a vehicle that would assist him in his movement, but the pleas have gone unheard by the department and the ministers.
Speaking about what prompted him to start his initiative, Kumar said that one of the locals approached him to tutor his son since the schools were closed amid the pandemic and he was unable to arrange a smartphone for online classes. It was then, Kumar realised that there were a significant number of such children belonging to the marginalised groups who could not afford access to online education.
"I started in September 2020 with only three children, but later the number rose to 20. As the space at home was not adequate enough, some of the parents asked me to conduct classes in the abandoned school," Kumar told The New Indian Express.
The publication reported that Kumar would be appearing for his board examinations this year. He aspires to be a teacher so that he can continue living his dream of educating everyone.
Taking the bold steps did entail criticism for Kumar. He shared that he was shamed and bullied for his disability. When he had approached his seniors to help him in his class 10 board exams, he was mocked at and rubbished as 'good for nothing' but he did not let the criticism stop him from setting an example.
While the pandemic has been tough for everyone, it has been extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. During such a time, an 18-year-old, who is struggling with physical challenges, deciding to ensure that the education of over 60 children in his village does not stop due to financial constraints is commendable. The Logical Indian salutes Kumar and his spirits for proving that he is more than his disabilities and would not let anything deter him from achieving his goals.
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