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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Valmiki's children script a small epic of their own at this school

Valmiki's children script a small epic of their own at this school
Valmiki's children script a small epic of their own at this school
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
After you wriggle your way through some of west Delhi’s notoriously clogged dirt-roads on a rainy morning, past the "RadheyKrishna Fast Food" centres, past the never-ending squatter settlements, the ferns sprouting from a toilet bowl atop a beautifully-crafted iron gate come as a surprise. The business of bathrooms is taken seriously at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, we are told.

But this place isn’t about intricately-carved and painted urinals or commodes, nor the bowls’ role in history—"Toilets were the places where many conspiracies were hatched...Edward II was locked in his loo," says a message inside one toilet. On these premises, the dreams of around 350 children, now busy mugging up their Maths and English lessons from dog-eared textbooks, are taking shape.

Cliches ring so true for the Sulabh Public school. Indeed, it is a school with a difference—60 per cent of the children here come from scavenger families. They know that beyond the "A for Apple and B for Boy" lessons, the four walls of the school hold the promise of multiplying their aspirations, dreams which their parents saw but could never fructify. They realise that society may have given them the more politically correct name of "Valmikis", but it does nothing or little at all to bring them into the mainstream. This is the vacuum the school fills—by giving them empowerment at the grassroots, or what social scientists call vertical mobility.

Founded in 1992 by Padma Bhushan Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh International Social Service organisation, this is India’s "first quality school for the children of Valmikis". "Smile, You’re in Sulabh", is the driving force behind every day spent in the school for the last 10 years. The CBSE-recognised school currently has classes till Standard 9, and every year a new class is added. Everything, from...

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