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

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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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Conventional vs Unconventional Classroom

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

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Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online training makes the content available for students digitally. Flickr

Learning is the process of acquiring new skills or knowledge and for quite some time students have followed the process of enrolling in an offline centre to learn and study from the material provided but now, there is a new and an unconventional approach to upskilling yourself and that is through online learning.

While I was growing up, if I ever wanted to learn a new skill, I had to travel a minimum of 2-3 kms to the nearest learning or tuition centre to enquire and then enrol for the desired training. Though there were interactions with the teacher, but inhibitions got the better of me and with time, because of all the unresolved doubts, the learning started to become monotonous and I lost interest. But online learning has made that journey for a student interesting, fun and a cakewalk. You can relax in your seat while the knowledge is displayed on your screen and ask all that you wish to.

To begin with, what is online learning?

Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online learning makes the content available for students digitally. Students can learn online, anywhere and anytime. Instead of physical copies of books, e-learning uses visual content and gamification.

To help you understand the differences better I would like to compare both the classrooms and the learning associated on the basis of parameters that are essential for an overall learning.

1.       Affordability: 

In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly.

Whereas in online learning, students’ aim is to learn so companies spend resources only on developing the content and thereby lowering the cost of the training.

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly. Pixabay

2.       Flexibility and convenience:

In a conventional classroom, if you miss a class it gets difficult to grasp the topic and understand what is being taught. The classes have to be attended on fixed days
and timings, offering almost no flexibility. Whereas in online learning, the classes can be taken as per your availability and thus giving you an opportunity to design your own curriculum. You could also watch the classes over and understand the topics in-depth.

3.       Answers to your questions:

While learning, doubts might arise about the topic being taught but students usually hesitate in asking questions in a classroom. Whereas in online learning, you are an anonymous user and your doubts, as frivolous they may be, can be asked without any hesitation.
4.       Practical experience:
The learning journey in a conventional classroom is about reading and grasping, it involves little or none practical applications of the learnings. Whereas in online learning, the training is designed in such a manner that the content is informative and involves practical applications as well. The test and assignments in the module are made to ensure that the student has a holistic growth.

Also Read- Apple Watch Helps Users in US Take ECG

Only 20 percent of the five million students who graduate every year get employed, industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a report, published last year.

The competition is stiff and is going to get worse with time so It essential to make yourself stand out from the rest to increase your chances of getting hired. The certificate you will receive at the successful completion of the training will help in making the employer realise that you have relevant skills and in-depth knowledge about the subject.

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

About the Author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the Founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and trainings platform. (Internshala.com)