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Deprived of education, 65-year-old yellow cab driver runs two schools, orphanage in Sundarbans

Sunderbans, Wikimedia

Kolkata, April 13, 2017: It’s been a bumpy ride for a 65-year-old yellow cab driver, Gazi Jalaluddin. A good student who was forced to give up formal education due to poverty, he now runs two schools and an orphanage in his native Sundarbans, ensuring a smoother journey for the underprivileged in a land at the mercy of the rivers.

“I don’t know how much longer I will be able to keep it up through driving. My two sons are also driving and help in the endeavour. There are 425 students in total. Since it’s run as a non-governmental organisation (Sunderban Orphanage and Social Welfare Trust) we do not have access to government funds. I have tried communicating with the local district administration about assistance but to no avail,” the bespectacled Gazi told IANS while taking a break from ferrying passengers.

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Gazi’s schools are located in the Joynagar area of the Sundarbans (in South 24-Parganas district), about 60 km from Kolkata.

With a 25-member staff — 21 are teachers — the schools are completely dependent on the income from taxi rides, donations from good samaritans and passengers who are considerate enough to offer some money when they learn of Gazi’s unique venture.

His cab proudly displays his mobile number (9735562504) and an appeal for help with the message: “This taxi’s total income is spent for the development of orphans mission, Sikkhyatan mission and IIPF school for the orphans. So kindly don’t give any traffic case against this taxi.”

Gazi divides his time between Narendrapur in South 24 Parganas and Joynagar in the Sundarbans area of the same district. Part of the week he spends at Narendrapur plying the cab and the rest back home in the Sundarbans.

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Citing his wife as an inspiration, Gazi revealed his family lives on the premises of one of the schools.

“I had to quit studies when I was seven years old. I had stood first in class two and was going to the next class. But my parents were unable to afford books; so I had to give up. That drove me to do something for the underprivileged,” Gazi reminisced without any pangs of remorse.

His dream of setting up a school finally took wing in 1998. But the road was not short and the journey was peppered with obstacles.

“I spent my boyhood begging on the streets of Kolkata and then I started plying rickshaws. Gradually I started driving a taxi. From 1980, I used to arrange books and clothes for children and ensure they went to school. I used to impart driving lessons to the youth to make sure they have a source of livelihood.

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“When I reached a financially stable position, I started a small primary school with 16 students in the plot of land I own. I gave up the plot (four to five kathas) for school use. That became bigger with the acquisition of more land and is now a school-cum-orphanage,” he explained.

Later on, through donations of land, he acquired around seven kathas from locals and passengers. This became the site for his second school.

“In both the schools, students are taught till Class 4 and in one we have recently introduced Madhyamik (Class 10 board exams under the West Bengal education board). My earnings through taxi rides is around Rs 450 (a day). The money that is left from food expenditure and maintenance of the vehicle goes to the schools.

“I want to expand the schools and target secondary and higher secondary education. I have faith in people and hope they come to our aid as poverty is still the root cause of unemployment and lack of education in the Sundarbans. Life is difficult for the people in the remoter areas due to natural disasters. Education will go a long way in helping them achieve self-sufficiency,” Gazi signed-off on his way to pick up another commuter. (IANS)

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Good education can curb childhood abuse effects: Study

Parent reports and self-reports of the team showed criminal and antisocial behaviour among the childhood abuse victims

Good education can reduce the impact of childhood abuse. Pixabay
Good education can reduce the impact of childhood abuse. Pixabay
  • A good education may help reduce effects of childhood abuse
  • Abuse which children suffer in young age can make them criminals
  • Poor grades can shift students towards crime too

Good grades and proper schooling may help in protecting victims of childhood abuse from indulging in criminal behaviour in adulthood, a study says.

The emotional and sexual abuse that some kids endure during their childhood can lead them to commit crimes later in life. But when they achieve good grades in childhood and complete their academics, the likelihood of indulging in criminal behaviour declines significantly.

By funding K-12 Public Schools, Qatar Foundation is promoting Arabic in American schools. Pixabay.
Bad education can lead to children moving towards committing crimes. Pixabay.

“Child abuse is a risk factor for later antisocial behaviour,” said Todd Herrenkohl, Professor at the University of Michigan in the US.

“Education and academic achievement can lessen the risk of crime for all youth, including those who have been abused (encountered stress and adversity),” Herrenkohl added.

However, for some children who are weak in academic performance and get suspended in grades seven to nine, the offending habits and antisocial behaviour tends to stay with them even later in life, the researchers said.

Also Read: Strong Relationships May Counter Health Effects of Childhood Abuses

The study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, noted that the primary prevention of child abuse is a critical first step to reduce antisocial behaviour at the transition from adolescence into adulthood. Researchers followed 356 people from childhood (ages 18 months to 6 years), school-age (8 years), adolescent (18 years) and adulthood (36 years).

Child abuse can make children criminals. VOA

Parent-child interactions measured various types of abuse and neglect, and responses also factored educational experiences and criminal behaviour against others or property. Parent reports and self-reports of the team showed criminal and antisocial behaviour among the childhood abuse victims.

“Strategies focused on helping school professionals become aware of the impacts of child abuse and neglect are critical to building supportive environments that promote resilience and lessen the risk for antisocial behaviour,” Herrenkohl said. IANS