A torn rug to sit on, a metro bridge for a roof, a patch of wall painted black for a blackboard and a shopkeeper for a teacher. This may look like a scene out of a Hindi movie but is the everyday reality of 39 children from villages near the Yamuna bank.
"Our teacher has told us that when poverty strikes, you should open your mind, and that can be done only through education," Abhishek, 15, a student of Sharma's now attending a government school, told the Indian Express. He aspires to be an engineer when he grows up.
Rajesh Kumar Sharma, 40, offers a free education to New Delhi's slum children under a metro bridge.
Over 30 local Indian children have been attending his open-air, dirt-floor school since it opened three years ago.
Five days a week, for two hours a day, Sharma leaves his post at his general store — his brother fills in for him — to teach underprivileged children otherwise without access to schooling.
The father of three quit college due to financial limitations, and didn't want other children to encounter the same situation. So he persuaded local labourers, rickshaw-pullers and farm hands to allow their children to attend his school and give them greater opportunities at overcoming their poverty.
Sharma teaches children at other locations, too. The Indian Express reports that he started teaching the basics to 140 students, prepping them for admission to government schools. Seventy of them are now in those government schools.
"They still come here every day. I manage to keep them ahead of the school curriculum," Sharma told the paper, adding that he allows children too young for classes to sit in on the teaching.