Picture this. In a lower income family in a remote place of Assam, three siblings (all girls) who aren’t even adult lose both parents (daily wagers) to covid and they have only an old fragile grandmother left as the guardian, have no source of sustenance. In absence of any financial support, all three will have to give up studies and God knows, how they will be exploited to survive in the real world?
As one of the students of Shashi Prakash Singh shared this status of poor girls with him, he without losing a day decided to support their education. This support in nick of time, saved their dreams.
Shashi Prakash Singh, a chemistry teacher of 14 years has been employed in coaching industry and before signing up with online education platform, Unacademy, he was a regular teacher in Kota with a leading coaching institute for JEE/NEET preparation. As the second wave of covid visited harshly almost every hold in Delhi NCR, his mother too couldn’t escape the infection and she became seriously ill. At this point Singh was moved by deluge and devastation all around and his thoughts went beyond teaching for the good of society.
It was the time to give back. As news about children being orphaned, abandoned and losing guardians appeared from everywhere, Singh floated an idea to his family and friends of financially helping 2021children to continue their education. “In my whole life, I haven’t seen such a magnitude of any disaster. Mass dropouts and discontinuation of education is a challenge. So, in my own way and capability, I embarked upon a mission of reaching out to such children and support them. As the year 2021 is really ugly and one that we would like to erase its bad memories, as a revenge I set a target of helping 2021 children under this mission,” he says.
Shashi Prakash Singh, who himself has seen poverty in his childhood and also how his own father, a small time farmer in a village of Ballia (Uttar Pradesh), did everything possible to educate him. He did B Tech from College of Engineering, Roorkee. “I know the irreplaceable place father has in ones your life. So, losing him or mother early is a personal tragedy which you can’t overcome in lifetime. Therefore, in my own way, I want to fill voids to some extent,” he adds.
Singh has already supported more than 100 children and students under this mission. He is using his former students, social media and other platforms to send out the message. Any school student belonging to lower income group or economically weaker family having either lost a parent of both to pandemic or those families where the earning member has been lost or crippled, can get support of upto Rs 25,000 under Singh’s initiative. He has also tied with a Lucknow-based Educational Trust to channel individual contributions. “Though there are many friends and my ex-students, who are keen to donate to this initiative but I have kept them on hold. Whenever, there is a need of acceptance and distribution of funds, my partner NGO will step in and also offer tax rebates as per law,” he adds.
Asked how he identifies genuine beneficiaries, he says his group has put a scrutiny process. In most cases, the fees is paid directly to the schools after ascertaining record. Bank statements and supporting documents are looked at to vet process if paid directly to the family. “I must confess that there is no dearth of honest people in our country. People have told us if the school has waived fee. In some cases, revised estimate to their needs. But at the same time, there are also some people who would like to fake it, so we are quite diligent,” he says.
School fee is not only item on his menu. As a teacher in test prep, he knows a lot of students can’t afford to prepare in coaching institutes or otherwise. So, he is helping with books, advise and resources so that their dream is not crushed. “I am using my contacts with publishers and others and assuring student that they can do it without much investment. My help is there for every genuine student, who is feeling the pinch and helplessness in anyway,” he adds.
Shashi Prakash Singh hopes he will meet his target sooner than later and perhaps motivate a few others to give back. “Not doing for any ambition, recognition but purely a call of my consciousness and society duty,” he signs off.
Shashi Prakash Singh can be contacted at Chemistry.Shashi@gmail.com, Instagram: ImshashiSingh, ph: 9718188375