Youngest player to make a century in a cricket match, Youngest player to win Grand Slam tennis tournament, Youngest to win Olympic gold medal and many such feats happen around us, and world records tumble day in day out in the arena of sports. But getting recognized as a School Head Master at the age of sixteen isn’t usual stuff. A common belief amongst us is Head Master or Mistress is a stout person in his/her mid age, and their stare sends a signal of fear down the spine of students.
This post from Kalam Fan Club introduces readers to a Head Master who is referred to as Youngest Head Master of the world by BBC News for running a school singlehandedly at the age of sixteen. Meet Babar Ali who hails from a remote village called Gangpur in Murshidabad district of West Bengal situated at 180 Km distance from the capital city Kolkata. He started a career as a teacher at the age of nine by teaching his neighborhood kids after the school hours in his backyard and today at the age of 23 runs a school of 800 children and is still going strong in his mission to educate children of the remotest parts of this Nation.
Babar Ali’s Childhood
Babar Ali was born on 18th March 1993, in a predominantly Muslim populated village of Gangpur. He is the eldest amongst four siblings for his parents Md. Nasiruddin and Banuara Bibi. His father Nasiruddin a small jute merchant in Murshidabad admitted Babar to Bhabta Rasidiya Primary School in the year 1998, which was 2 KM away from his house. He studied in this school up to 4th standard. At the age of nine, he was admitted to Beldanga CRGS High School, about 10 kilometers away from his home. The schooling at CRGS Schools became a turning point in Babar’s life. During his long walk from bus stand to house in the evenings (which was 2 KM away from his home), Babar used to witness a huge crowd of children spending their time grazing cattle in fields. Babar’s inner voice prompted him to invite those children to study with him. The children used to readily agree for his invitation and all that started as a game of teaching and learning in the front yard of his house has become a school of repute today. Even his younger sister Amina Khatun was also one of among first eight students who got admitted to Babar’s school.
The Growth Phase of School
Formally Babar’s school started operation on 19th October 2002. During Initial day’s his Father Nasaruddin having witnessed Babar’s dedication in teaching donated him 600 INR to purchase notebooks and textbooks, thus funding for his school had a beginning from home itself.
Babar being a zealous follower of Swami Vivekananda has tried to inculcate Swami’s ideology in his life. He frequently visits nearby Ramakrishna Ashram in his free time. Babar in his own words has put his association with Ramakrishna Ashram as— “I used to visit the ashram regularly, with my friends, as five or six years old. At that age, we hardly knew about its mission, but the deer running inside the park and the fish in the aquarium were attractive for us. Slowly, I got inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, and his selfless service to humanity molded me.”
School Named as ‘Ananda Shiksha Niketan’
Babar school started grabbing public attention. Prof. Sanath Kar, Principal of a nearby college, Beldanga SRF College, who also happened to be a close friend of Babar’s father was impressed by his work. He donated many books to Babar’s school and christened it as Ananda Shiksha Niketan (Happy Learning Home). Villagers who were skeptical about Babar’s intention also slowly gained confidence in him as many media houses reported the story about his service. Thus school started attracting more students and has grown up to 800 student strength in the span of 13 years. Today this Bengali Medium has recognition from West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (since 2012) and growing strong with many of its old students joining hands with Babar in the process of teaching. Of course, Babar himself has elevated from Teacher to Head Master’s role!
Hurdles on the path
Babar being a boy from a minority community was viewed with tinted glass by many people from the majority community, and many floated conspiracy of ‘converting children to his religion’ behind Babar’s service. He was alleged as a promoter of proselytism. But being a staunch believer in Swami Vivekananda’s ideology, he was undeterred by these false allegations. Even the minority community was skeptical about this boy and was spreading rumors he had got converted to the other religion by visiting Ramakrishna Ashram as said nothing could de-track him from the path of serving to educate the underprivileged children.
The Growth Mode
Babar Ali’s service motto is catching up not only across the nation but the globe. A philanthropist NRI Ms. Almitra Patel has funded ‘Ananda Shiksha Niketan’ to be relocated to a spawning space of 7,200 square feet area at a village called Shankarpara. Babar spends nearly 5 Lakh INR per annum as expenditure for his school. Since Shankarpara Village is very remote, Babar is trying to bring in old students by plying buses to their villages. The school has eight teachers; six of them are alumni of the school and two supporting staff. Administration of school is looked after by a seven-member committee comprising of retired teachers and village elders.
Babar Ali’s personal Growth & Recognitions
Despite his busy schedule as Headmaster of his school, Babar has not given up his learning spree. He has acquired graduation in English honors from Krishnath College in Berhampore in 2013 and has also pursued Masters in Arts from Kalyani University by distant mode. Babar is preparing to realize his father’s dream to see him as an IAS officer. He is trying his level best to crack UPSC exams.
In this journey, Babar has received numerous awards and recognitions. Prominent among them are:
- He is a TED Fellow and an INK Fellow and INK Conference speaker and Wired fellow
- Featured in ‘FORBES ASIA’ in their 30 under 30 lists as a ‘Social Entrepreneur.’
- CNN-IBN- Real Heroes Award and NDTV ‘Indian of The Year ‘awards
- Literacy Hero Award, by rotary India’s literacy mission
- Featured in Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate Show
- His story is a chapter in English text book of Pre University Board of Karnataka state
- Similarly, his story is a chapter in English text book of Xth std CBSE board
Babar Ali has achieved the pinnacle of success at the age of 23; Kalam Fan Club wishes him greater success in future endeavors too.