This Children’s Day, Spare a Thought for the Kids of Yamuna Khadar

Students of Yamuna Khadar fear that they might lose both their school and its teacher. 

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(This story was first published on 12 November 2018 and is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Children’s Day.)

Camera: Abhay Sharma
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

Under the firm watch of Delhi’s Mayur Vihar metro station, a narrow, dusty road swirls its way to the village of Yamuna Khadar. As one moves deeper into the road, leaving the flower beds behind, the landscape is overtaken by flyover slabs and construction machinery.

But amidst the perpetual din of construction workers, a coaching centre has silently been functioning from inside an unused flyover slab and a road-side shack. “When I first started teaching, students didn’t know the basics of Mathematics and Science,” says Satyendra Pal, the centre’s teacher.

Pal, 22, hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun and had migrated with his parents to Delhi, in order to help them with agricultural work. A BSc student himself, Pal has been working hard to ensure that his students learn the basics of Math, a subject that most students dread.

Before Pal started teaching in 2016, the students of Yamuna Khadar didn’t have any basic understanding of Math and other science subjects. Although students would go to a nearby government school, most of them would fail in the ninth grade and drop out.

Since most families in the village comprise farmers working on rented land, students repeating a class would often be under pressure to give up studies and join their parents. It is this problem that Pal set out to correct.

Ninth grader Arjun is repeating class nine. He’s one of the few who didn’t give up studies, and is now learning basics. “I didn’t understand Math and so I had to repeat. But I’m learning a lot now and hope to better myself before exams,” he beams.

Quite similarly, Vikas, who’s in the seventh grade, says he’s no longer afraid of Math. He’s grateful to Pal, who he says has made a lot of difference in his grades. But Akash is afraid of losing both the school and his teacher.

The land on which the school stands belongs to the Delhi Development Authority. The slab under which the younger lot studies too will be used in flyover construction. Further, none of the migrant families own land and fear eviction from the area. With no land, school or teacher, where will those dreaming big in Yamuna Khadar go?

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