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Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 10:02 PM

The youngest headmaster

Education & Career

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Today, all around the world where millions of children are being deprived of education only because their families cannot afford the expenses of the school, there is one youth from India, who is trying to change that. Babar Alinamed the ‘youngest headmaster in the world’ by BBC in October 2009, at the age of 16, is making the difference.

Babar Ali, the youngest headmaster in the world. As he was only 9years when he started of with his dream of running a school and to educate everyone. Now as a young 22 years he is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his school, where he runs classes for poor children from his village. The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable story of the desire to learn amidst poverty, not only that but also trying to eradicate poverty with education.

Babar Rotary

A typical day for Babar begins as he wakes up every morning at 7am and starts his day by doing some household chores. Then study for himself, as aftergraduation from Berhampur Krishnath College (under Kalyani University in West Bengal, India) in English Honors, he is currently pursuing his M.A. in English Literature from Kalyani University, he also wants to pursue M.A in History and Political Science once he complete his Masters in English.

After his studies he heads towards the school“Anand Siksha Niketan”

Aamir Babar

Babar Ali started his school at the mere age of nine years. In fact, his school “Anand Siksha Niketan” grew out of a game. “We used to play school-school, with me as teacher. My friends had never seen the inside of a school, so they enjoyed playing students. They ended up learning arithmetic and enjoying it”, says Babar Ali while trying to explain how he initially started teaching. In 2002, the game got institutionalized, with the strength of eight mainly his siblings and some children from his own neighborhood.

So gradually word spread and the numbers grew. Help began to come from other quarters, Babar’s own teachers, monks at the local Ramakrishna Mission, sympathetic IAS officers, even local cops. When Babar first thought up a mid-day meal scheme, the rice came from his father’s fields.

Babar Ali teaching at 9-years-old

Today, thirteen years down the line, the school has around 300 students on roll call and 700 students in total, whom Babar is planning to enroll, coming year, with 10 volunteer teachers teaching grades 1 through 8.  His little afternoon venture is now registered and recognized by the West Bengal State Government, which means students graduating from Babar’s school are eligible to transfer to other local high schools.

Babar Ali says “We are running classes up to 10th standard. There are 10 teaching and non-teaching staffs who volunteer their time to educate the children. We have about 300 students who are currently enrolled. There are no tuition fees, thus making it affordable for the poor in this economically deprived area, and thereby helping increase literacy rate there.  Six of our students joined us back as teachers to give back what they had leant as students”.

Babar School

Babar Ali lives with his three siblings and his parents in a thatched house in the Bhapta neighborhood of Gangapur Village in West Bengal’s Murshidabad, Yet, ironically, he is still among the privileged ones in his village, because unlike most children there, he wentto school and got formal education. He was better off also in being the son of Nasiruddin Sheikh. Nasiruddin is a jute seller and a dropout who believes that education is man’s true religion and he is one who initially supported his son’s venture with his own income. Coming from a comparatively privileged family Babar realized he must do something for the other children in this village, when the students started to grow in his school.

In spite of many government schemes to lure students to schools, because of extreme poverty in the area lots of families cannot afford to send their children to school, instead of going to school most of the boys help out their families by working as mechanics, day laborers, grass cutters, live stock herders etc. whereas girls work as maid servants in the village where they cook, clean, wash clothes and dishes for their employers. Babar Ali wanted to change this. That is why he took the initiative of opening his own school.It gradually worked, now when the children of the village and the localities nearby are done with their chores and jobs at daytime, they run to attend Babar’s afternoon school.

Babar students

Recently shifted to newly constructed school building, which easily accommodates 300 students but the concern for Babar is that another 400 students are to be enrolled next year, which may need additional infrastructure. Although help and support in the form of donations and supports are coming in, but Babar feels government too should take initiative to be with him. “I don’t expect much, but support from the system will certainly encourage me and my students” Babar says.

Babar Ali, who draws his inspiration from Swami Vivekananda, has received many awards and recognitions. In 2009, Babar Ali won a prize from the program Real Heroes of the Indian English news channel CNN IBN for his work and was awarded the NDTV ‘Indian of the Year’ award. His story became a part of the syllabus for the CBSE 10th standard English textbook, PUC English textbook for Govt. of Karnataka, and also in a curriculum in Luxembourg, Europe. He was featured on Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyamev Jayate in July 2012, and is regularly invited to speak at various conferences and forums all over the world.

So this is the story of Babar Ali, whose continuous and single handed effort has brought light of education to many and in the years to come many more will learn from this great young headmaster, who believes “Education shouldn’t be limited to mere books, but what is needed is man making education. The man who will think of the society, not the man who will only think of himself, through education we can change the world and make it a beautiful one”.



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