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The Constable's Classroom: Taught in Parking Lot, 31 Kids Get School Admissions

Arjun, one of the students, recalled how even during the COVID-19 induced lockdown “Singh sir helped everyone out."

Published
Education
4 min read

Around three years ago, when Sakshi’s parents couldn’t find any work in their village in Madhya Pradesh’s Chanderi, they moved to Delhi. Here, they found work as labourers at the Red Fort, and Sakshi found a classroom in the parking lot.

She became one of the students of a classroom run by a Delhi Police constable for children who came from underprivileged backgrounds.

Two years later, Sakshi is now admitted in a Delhi government school – her first formal education experience. She is one of the 31 students, who are a part of constable Than Singh’s classroom in the Red Fort parking lot, who have gotten admission in government schools after being recommended by the Delhi Police.

Like constable Singh, lovingly known as ‘Uncle,’ Sakshi too wants to join the police force when she grows up. “I also want to learn how to use the computer,” she told The Quint.

The board on which Singh taught the students in his classroom.

(Photo: Samarth Grover/TheQuint)

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‘I Have Faced Struggles in Life Like These Children as Well’: Than Singh

From 3pm to 5.30pm every day, around 60 children between the ages of 6 and 16 years, run to the constable’s classroom where they are taught subjects such as Math, Science, Hindi, and others, along with life lessons.

“We also teach them what is good touch, bad touch,” said Singh, one afternoon after class. As the class begins, the children run with their bags to form neat lines in front of their teacher to make up for lost time. They take out their books and notebooks, provided by Singh.

It was six years ago that he set up a makeshift school here.

“I have faced struggles in life like these children as well. My parents used to leave at 5am for work. They would return home and then I would go with them to iron clothes,” he said, showing old burn marks on his hand.

“I got an idea to start a small paathshala for these children so that they get basic education, learn how to write their names, and stay away from bad company. Their parents can also learn which bus is what number, what’s right and wrong. We teach everything that is necessary here.”
Constable Than Singh.

A class 3 student during the class.

(Photo: Samarth Grover/TheQuint)

‘Singh Sir Helped Everyone Out During COVID As Well'

Arjun, 12, who is one of the students, recalled how even during the COVID-19 lockdown, Singh sir helped everyone out. "He used to provide us meals even then,” he added.

Lakshmi, 12, and her three siblings who study in the same classroom said, “Sir has given us books and bags, he is very nice.” Their parents are labourers at the Red Fort.

The classroom has given hope to the parents of the children. Ashok Pal, father of two students who study in the classroom, told The Quint, "If they (children) get educated, become learned, then they will not become labourers like us."

Another parent, Ram Singh, father of three students, said, "Now, we think that if our children get admitted in a school, that’s good. They will get educated."

Ashok Pal, father of three students of the classroom.

(Photo: Samarth Grover/TheQuint)

Since Singh’s job keeps him busy, he has brought on board teachers and volunteers to ensure that the children’s own education doesn’t suffer.

“First and foremost, I have my duty as a police personnel. I teach when I get time after my duty. For their education to not be taken lightly, I have two students working here so that even if I’m not here, the kids shouldn’t miss out,” said Singh.

Among them is Ankita Sharma, 19, who used to be one of Singh’s students. Today, she is a teacher at the makeshift school herself. “Singh sir has done a lot for the children,” she said, as she wrote alphabets on the blackboard. She is paid Rs 4,000 a month.

Meanwhile, over the years, student volunteers from Delhi University’s Mata Sundri College, have also taught the children, including activities such as yoga, dance, among others.

Volunteers from Mata Sundri College.

(Photo: Samarth Grover/TheQuint)

Asees Kaur, 19, a B.Com student, told The Quint, “We didn’t think we would be teaching here. We just came here to see the children. It was the first visit but after that we decided we just had to teach here. So, every month we send 18 volunteers and everyone is passionate to teach.”

The Quint visited the classroom on 5 April. At the time, Singh said that he will “celebrate when the children are finally in school uniforms”.

Two weeks later, he sent three videos of 31 of his students across age group ready for school. Dressed in crisp school uniform, hair neatly combed, bag packed, and wide smiles on their face, they walked to their new school, and bid goodbye to their “Singh sir.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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