13 retired men teach Mumbai a lesson

If you thought that life of a retired man is a walk in the (Nana-Nani) park, think again. Thirteen senior citizens from Santacruz are making each week of their post-retirement leisure count, as they visit BMC schools to impart lessons in Computers and English to their students. 

Having made their presence felt at three schools in their neighbourhood so far, they are now eager to spread the light of knowledge to more schools across the city. What’s more, they don’t charge a penny for their valuable services.

Inspiring: The elderly teachers at a computer class in Tank Lane municipal school. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Students of Tank Lane Municipal School in Santacruz (West) are enjoying their Computer and English lessons these days, which are conducted in two-hour session every school day.

Making their time count: Shailesh Gandhi, Narendra Madan and Rajiv Mehta teach students computer at Tank Lane Municipal School in Santacruz. Each session is two hours long. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Satish Sutaria, a volunteer, said, “The children are very enthusiastic about the sessions, and so am I. I work as a freelancer these days but I am also a teacher to these kids. I make it a point to avoid any assignments on the day that I have to conduct a session.”

Former RTI commissioner and volunteer Shailesh Gandhi said, “The government is undoubtedly flawed, but what are the citizens doing on their part to bring about change? The morchas won’t bring about change in the system, but the common man can, with a little effort.”

The volunteers now want their programme to be replicated by other organisations. So far, they have been conducting the sessions in Petit Municipal School, Hasnabaad Municipal School and Tank Lane Municipal School.

The schools had been given computers several years ago. However, the machines were gathering dust because the number of students in each school far outnumbered the number of PCs provided by the authorities. To solve this conundrum, the classes were divided into batches of two, but the teachers could not attend to both batches at the same time. The computers lay unused, and the students remained computer-illiterate -- still these13 saviours came to their rescue, and took on the responsibility of giving the lessons.

“The use of computers is very important, and without this knowledge, the students will be absolutely lost. The children will now be able to face the challenges that technology throws up in future. Technology is a very important part of life. I observed was these students are very sharp and pick up things very quickly. Since they have access to the machinery, why should they be deprived of the know-how?” said Narendra Madan a volunteer and IIT Delhi graduate.

While these 13 enlightened souls have set the ball rolling, they have to spread themselves thin, owing to lack of volunteers. “We thought we would have enough volunteers willing to spend two hours in a week to teach these students, but sadly, that is not the case. There are many housewives who are qualified but do not work -- we thought they would be willing to work with us, but no such thing happened. We want to extend this programme to as many schools as possible, but we cannot, as we don’t have enough volunteers,” said a member of the group.

Want to help?
Those interested in volunteering for this programme can contact Shailesh Gandhi at 8976240798 and, Nitin Wadhwani at 9821112418,  

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