Delhi slum’s police-run school rescues kids from the streets

A Delhi police officer, who once crawled his way out of the city slums during his own childhood, is now making a difference by giving back to underprivileged children who endure the hardships of skipping school and working odd jobs.

Than Singh, through his free school held in the parking lot of the renowned Red Fort, assists kids who have missed out on education to catch up with their peers and bridge the learning gap.

Hailing from Bharatpur in Rajasthan, Singh grew up on the streets of New Delhi, surviving by selling corn while his father worked as a clothes ironer. Despite their challenging circumstances, Singh never lost sight of the importance of education.

While Singh’s father aspired to become a police officer, the burden of supporting the family prevented him from adequately preparing for the job. However, Singh followed in his father’s footsteps, remained committed to his studies, and successfully passed the examination to join the Delhi Police.

Returning to patrol the very streets where he was raised, Singh felt compelled to make a difference in the lives of children who, like him, had to work instead of attending school. That’s when he established a unique school called “Than Singh Ki Pathshala.”

“I volunteered to teach these kids so that they can catch up with their peers. To achieve this, I started meeting their parents. The police force is the only segment that reaches out to people regardless of their socio-economic status and understands their problems,” Constable Singh explained to The Better India. “After meeting the parents, I convinced them not to worry about their children and encouraged them to send them to our ‘pathshala’ (school).”

Singh teaches 80 children between the ages of 3 and 15 from neighborhoods such as Raj Ghat, Vijay Ghat, and Shantivan outside the Red Fort. Local battery-rickshaw drivers generously volunteer to transport the children home from school every day.

Everything Singh provides, including books, lunches, uniforms, and other supplies, comes through donations. He aims to create a conducive environment for these children, as their parents are often at work, and there is a risk of them wandering the streets. That’s why the learning continues even after regular school hours. As word spread about the opportunity for admission after studying with Singh, more and more children started joining the school.

Last year, 70 of Singh’s students successfully enrolled in mainstream government schools, with 10 of them achieving top scores in their classes.

“There is no greater satisfaction than working for these children. I can be the reason for bringing positive change in their lives with just a little support. What could be better than this for me?” expressed Singh, his dedication shining through.

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