Involved in begging, neither had the children of the slum of Pratap Nagar gone to schools, nor were they familiar with the basics. The teachers from Jaipur took on themselves to teach them and send them to schools.
The Republic Day celebrations of 2022 were heartening for Ram Raika and Rahul Prakash Singh, who arranged for a small-level function in the slum of Pratap Nagar, Sector 11. In many ways, this event was different. The primary contrast was the parents of the children, who were not on board with the teaching program initiated by Raika and Singh, instead handed over the money to be used for their kid’s development. And as it turned out, the program was meant for children, for which the teachers from Jaipur invited a few influencers and attracted a crowd from nearby areas and slums.
All of this dates back to 2020. Raika and Singh, both teachers, were laid off from their respective jobs owing to the COVID-19 lockdown. While their desperation to work was at its peak, the long-term urge to contribute to society through education was also in their heads. Meanwhile, they moved to their hometowns and could be back only in October.
During this time, they came across 4-5 kids in a slum area of Pratap Nagar who were begging. They asked what could Raika and Singh give to them, to which the duo replied, “We could teach you.” This kickstarted the continuation of reaching the slum and teaching them. However, it was not as easy as it seemed. The kids were of 11 to 12 years of age and had never seen a school before. Being a teacher for a long time, Raika maintains that a kid’s growth happens faster at an early age; hence, he knew it would be challenging for them.
Adding to the miseries were the scenes of older people, mostly the parents of those children who could be seen gambling and smoking up intoxicants. Moreover, the parents of these children would not talk to Raika and Singh; even if they did, it was for begging. “They would come to us for money and were not concerned about their children’s education,” Raika recounts.
Since the children did not even know the basics, and even after the hard work and attempts by the teacher duo, these children were unable to grasp it. And this is when the teachers switched their teaching styles. Aiming to make their teaching style more interesting, they experimented with creativity. After noticing that the kids were good at playing cards and how they liked it much, Raika and Singh made cards in their homes to instill an understanding of basics in the kids.
In addition, they taught some basic mathematics through the glass balls that the kids would play with within their houses. The result of both experiments turned out to be successful, and it helped arouse interest in studies in children’s minds. On the other hand, they also reached out to the parents explaining to them the hazards of indulging in illicit activities with their children. Sometimes, as Raika mentions, they would behave strictly with the parents saying they won’t come to teach their children if they don’t give up the harmful activities.
To be able to make friends with the parents, Raika and Singh would often reach out to them, asking why they don’t offer even a single cup of tea, and once even self-invited themselves for the treat. However, the parents were hesitant to do so due to the set divide between the social classes that would make them think of being less superior to the teachers, but Raika and Singh maintained to eat with them. Such behaviour paved the way for the family to get close to the teachers.
Seeing the two teachers teaching the slum kids attracted even more people to the cause. Currently, almost 50 people are associated with Raika and Singh teaching the kids, with a total of 95 children living in three slum areas; and these kids are taught by these teachers daily, who have named the initiative – ‘Unstoppable.’
Even though Raika and Singh have started working at a coaching institute, where Raika teaches the reasonings and the latter Maths to the students preparing for competitive exams, they dedicate the second half of their schedule to the slum kids. After meeting with a few politicians and councillors, the teachers have even helped the kids make Aadhaar cards, which has further paved the way for the kids to get enrolled in the schools in their localities. And as they have started going to school, the teachers have taken the responsibility of coaching them in the evening. Ram Raika takes pride in saying that all of their students are now enrolled in the schools, and a few left will join soon.
Social impact of the selfless service of teachers from Jaipur
Not only have the teachers inspired the kids to be interested in their studies, but their work has also been a pioneer in making the parents value education. With programs like ‘Chai Pe Charcha,’ aiming to discuss the community’s problems, the teachers have managed to win the parents’ trust. In return, they seem to have given up on such activities that come as a hindrance in the education of their children.
Furthermore, the teachers have also run cleanliness drives in the slum areas from time to time. Now, not a single day passes without them sipping a cup of tea with the parents of the slum kids. Remembering some of the best moments with the kids, Raika goes back to the time when the teachers took the children to Jawahar Circle park. He says, “I remember the children were delighted, and it was very satisfying for us.” Not to be skipped that the teachers had also conducted a few activities in the park consisting of music and dance that even invited the crowds over there.
The teachers have also taken the children to one of the famous historical sites in Jaipur – Amer fort, along with other places. The members of Unstoppable also visited an old-age home where they spent some time with the elders and donated for their betterment.
The heart of the teachers, though, lies with the kids of the slums who once said to Raika and Singh – “Will you also teach us for some days, take photos and never come back again?” It is a delightful fact that they have been together for the last two years, and at the time of this conversation, Raika was present in the slum preparing for a kid’s birthday party.