After wife’s death, retired govt officer carries forward her mission to educate slum children
Jammu: A retired official of the Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken up the baton of running a ‘free-of-cost’ primary school for slum children that was set up and run by his wife till her death last April.
On the occasion of Teachers Day on Tuesday, Romesh Chander Khajuria recalled how he has taken up teaching as a tribute to his wife Kanchan Sharma who had opened the makeshift school — ‘Sangarh Vidya Kendra’ — at Maratha Basti around 19 years ago.
“After the death of my wife, I decided to ensure that the school keeps running. Though this was not my line, I have taken it up as a service to humanity,” Khajuria, who retired in 2012 as additional secretary in the law and parliamentary affairs department, told PTI.
The school, set up by Khajuria’s wife Kanchan Sharma, a retired government school teacher, currently has over 60 students and four teachers.
“She was known as a super teacher for her efforts and we have to continue her incomplete mission which she started 19 years ago. She firmly believed that the best way to eradicate poverty is education,” Khajuria said.
The retired government official said that he has made it his life’s mission and expressed pride in the fact that hundreds of slum children have received basic education over the years.
“Four of them have already completed their graduation and many others are studying in higher classes. We provide education up to class 5 but our teachers visit the parents and ensure that the children are enrolled in middle, high and higher secondary schools,” Khajuria said.
He said that his wife had faced a lot of problems in motivating the residents of the slum to send their children to school.
“We have been running this school without any aid from any quarters. I am managing the affairs out of my own pocket and consider it as a service to humanity,” Khajuria said.
Anuradha, a teacher, said everybody in the school, including the children, miss Sharma. But since her husband took over the responsibility, the school has been running without any hitch, she said.
“I have been here since the school started. We are working to the best of our ability following her (Sharma’s) guidelines to make sure that the children are educated,” she said.
Another teacher, Monika Kumari, who has been working in the school for the past seven years, said the students are intelligent and are second to none. “In competitions, they performed well and even grabbed the first prize,” she said.
Parveen, a class three student of the school, said that he wants to be a policeman.
“We study all subjects, including English, Hindi, science, maths and environment sciences,” he said, adding that his parents want him to get educated and “we are thankful to our teachers for their best efforts”.