Delhi: Rajesh Kumar became an inspirational teacher for his students. He is not just their teacher, but a guide and an idol. He started a campaign of teaching poor children for free. Initially, only two students attended his classes, but today, more than 300 children study with him. He provides his lessons under the metro flyover in Delhi. 

Who is Rajesh Kumar?

Rajesh Kumar Sharma grew up in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. He is 53 years old. He had always dreamt of becoming an engineer, but he could not pursue his dreams due to lack of money. He lived with a family of nine in a small house. Travelling 7 kilometres by bicycle daily was an ordeal which often made him miss his science classes. 

In High School, he could not score sufficient marks and failed to secure an admission in the engineering college. Rajesh collected funds to secure a seat, and eventually took an admission. But due to the poor financial conditions of the household and his inability to pay the fees, he had to drop out of the college. 

Odd jobs in Delhi

In the year 1995, Rajesh Kumar came to Delhi in search of work. He became a watermelon seller and often worked as a labourer. He could not make enough money from these odd jobs. His failure to complete his education always made him disappointed so he decided to be of some help to other kids. 

In 2006, he began his school for teaching slum children under the metro flyover near Yamuna Bank Depot in Delhi. His school provides free education to children and works to uplift their situation. The school was named ‘Free School Under the Bridge’. 

Rajesh shares that the school could only attract 2 kids in the beginning. He used to teach those children under a tree. Soon, people learned about this free school and started sending their children for studies. At present, the school boasts of more than 300 students. UNESCO also discussed about Rajesh’s school. 

Schedule of the classes

Rajesh shares that he runs the school in two shifts in a day.  The first shift runs from 9:30 in the morning to 11:00 am. And then the second shift runs in the afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm. Around 150 girls study in the morning and the boys study in the afternoon/evening shifts.  

Rajesh receives help from other teachers who willingly contribute to this noble cause. A teacher, Khushi shares that she is glad that she can utilize her free time in the best way possible and teaching these children makes her feel full of gratitude.

Maintaining the school

Rajesh’s students and teachers help him maintain cleanliness in his school. In the beginning, there was nothing to rely on but over time, Rajesh received support from many people; some provided school uniforms, other supplied books and the teachers contributed money to provide necessary items for the children. 

They have transformed the school by adding colourful artworks to the white walls and even got a blackboard from the metro department of Delhi. A toilet has also been installed in the school. Thanks to the collective effort, Rajesh has been able to brighten these children’s lives as students have gone on to study at the universities and colleges. One of the students from Rajesh’s school has achieved their dream of becoming an engineer.