Shiksha Sopan is an organisation of IIT-Kanpur community working for social uplift. Since 2001 it has been helping children from economically weak families living in the vicinity of the IIT-Kanpur campus and rural students from adjoining districts. Several children whose parents are vendors, drivers, daily-wage earner and labourers had immensely benefitted from it.
Three friends Hanuman, Dipu and Dharmendra were studying in a government school in 2003 in a rural area near the IIT Kanpur campus they heard about IIT students providing free tuitions to poor children in the vicinity. These three Class X students went there to check and got hooked to the two-hour evening classes. "The IIT students who taught us were not only teachers to us but mentors who changed our lives," says Hanuman.
Today all three are doing well. Hanuman works as Manager with HUAWEI Telecommunications, Gurgaon. "I passed my Class X and XII board exams in first division with distinction in physics," adds Hanuman. Later, a faculty member helped Hanuman to complete his computer courses. Hanuman, an MBA from Symbiosis, Pune, is proud of his friends, Dipu who runs a business and Dharmendra, who is an Engineer.
The story of this trio is one among many whose lives changed for better as a bunch of IIT students and faculty member lighted their lives with their knowledge and guidance.
Ragi, the daughter of a vendor who sold masala dosas in front of IIT-K hostels, now works in an IT firm in Bengaluru after Shiksha Sopan funded her education in MCA from Gorakhpur University. Vikas, who lived in servant quarters of IIT-K, benefited by Shiksha Sopan's 'Pratibha Poshan Yojna' (talent assisting scheme) and was provided free coaching. Today, he is pursuing B. Tech from NIT Hamirpur. The list of such children is endless.
Every evening most poor children from the vicinity of the IIT campus come for the regular evening campus in the premises. More than 500 families have benefitted by sending their children, studying in Class IV to Class XII for free tuitions. These children participate in several projects, workshops and classes. These includes inspiring stories, songs, and knowledge about Indian culture, games and personality development activities.
"It is a good platform for the IIT-K students to spend time with real society," said H C Verma, Department of Physics, IIT-K and the current secretary of Shiksha Sopan. He recalls how the seed of Shiksha Sopan was sown in students' hostel when they felt the urge to contribute something to the society.
"My friend Pranay Kumar and I used to teach children from IIT campus servant quarters. Many IIT students, who saw us, wanted to extend this on a larger scale," said Ranjan Upadhyaye, Shiksha Sopan committee member and a local social worker from Nankari nearby. Together with many IIT students, they started free evening classes for poor students living in nearby areas in 2001. "The idea was to use the intelligence of India's brightest students to spread knowledge among the poor section of the society," said Ranjan.
Later, some faculty members, too, joined and Shiksha Sopan blossomed. Today, the Shisha Sopan committee consists of nine members that comprise faculty members, students and local social workers. The locals are delighted that so many children of poor families are getting quality education from students of One of India's premier institutes.
With the joining of faculty members, the science cell has got strengthened. Several workshops in the campus and in government schools are being held regularly to educate students as well as teachers.
For the benefit of rural schools, they are also creating e-learning resources for underprivileged students. Children from other schools are also invited for workshops in IIT campus.
The results of children from Shiksha Sopan in 2014 board exams were very good as all students of Classes X and XII got good marks. Most of them secured first division and a few scored more than 80 per cent marks.
An annual scholarship, Dr V N Kulkarni Merit Scholarship, has helped many meritorious students. This year 16 students were selected for the scholarship after a test taken by over 3,000 students.
The teaching is not restricted to IIT campus only but extends to surrounding rural areas too. There is an informal educational centre (Anaupacharik Shikshan Kendra) in nearby Barasirohi village. Whenever time permits many IIT-K students, especially NSS members, go to Barasirohi to teach around 100 children there. With 300 children being taught in evening centre and having given away 150 scholarships till date, Shiksha Sopan is doing a great service in educational sector.
Programmed to educate
The Shiksha Sopan is working for the underprivileged children in and around IIT Kanpur through a number of regular programmes.
Pratibha Poshan Yojna
Pratibha Poshan Yojna
Higher education cell