Sunday, March 13, 2016

The heart and soul of an educator

Today's "crumb" comes to us from Ahmedabad, India, where Mr. Kamal Parmar runs a factory. One day, about 15 years ago, he was standing outside his factory gate when he saw twenty 8th graders from Municipality School walking home after taking exams. He asked what they study at school, and was shocked to learn that none of them could read or write. Then he surveyed about 400 students in the nearby slum and found only five were literate. (India has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world.) So he started his own informal school. Children attend for two hours each day and then all have dinner together. Mr. Parmar teaches "everything" and prepares students for Municipality exams, and for dinner he offers them "fancy dishes and sweets."

Many children enroll mainly for the delicious meal, but remain to become literate. When he began teaching, he had ten students. Now he has 115, and he does not need to hire extra staff because his past students return to teach current students. He is justifiably proud that "one of my girl students recently became the manager of a bank." Another became a computer engineer, and another is now a mechanical engineer. Mr. Parmar urges every literate adult to "educate just one child a year and see what a difference it makes to society."

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