School rebuilds lives of kids affected in riots

Sunrise Public School in Loni was started by a PhD scholar from IIT-Delhi

A school for north-east riot victims has been running near the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border since November last year.

When the communal riots broke out in the Capital, scores of people were displaced from their homes and the children could not go back to schools. Also, due to the COVID-induced lockdown, many families could not afford their education any longer.

How it began

When Aasif Mujtaba, a PhD scholar from IIT-Delhi, met Class IV student Arsh, he found out that his family’s juice shop had been burnt down during the riots.

Aasif, who also founded and runs an NGO called Miles2Smile Foundation, visited his family and got to know that they plan to send the boy to a stitching unit.

This is when he decided to start this school where children from Nursery to Class VIII are being taught. It is just a few minutes from Shiv Vihar where violence had broken out last February.

“I thought, there would definitely be hundreds of kids with the same problem. I was determined to open a school for them. Finally, we established Sunrise Public School. Currently, we have around 180 such kids enrolled in it,” he said. Arsh also goes to this school now.

Sunrise Public School — where three rooms are currently functional with an assembly area in the middle and a playground, which is yet to made — opened on November 15.

They currently have about 200 students enrolled out of which 25 from Class V-VIII are attending school for two hours — 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Principal speaks

School principal is a 25-year-old graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, Kishwar Shahzad. She said she has been a witness to the December 15 violence that broke out in her college last year. “I still can’t forget the trauma I underwent. I can’t imagine what these [riot-affected] people have gone through. Many of them have lost one of their parents or relatives in the riots,” she said.

One of the first experiences of Ms. Shahzad was meeting parents, who had come with photographs of their burnt houses. “I recall visiting Shiv Vihar. I had stepped on a burnt pile of books inside a house; it was heartbreaking,” she said.

Many parents said there was a private school in the area where their children used to study. After the riots, the school did not give any concession to the children whose parents could not afford the fees and also ill-treated them. Next, the children stopped going to the school.

Subjects taught

At the Sunrise Public School, they are teaching English, Urdu, mathematics, Hindi and science but in the new session starting in April, they are planning to add social studies, physical education, Islamiyat, computer science, arts and GK as well.

“We are following an improved education system. It’s subject-wise rather than class-wise. Students have to move to different classes for different subjects rather than teachers coming to their classes,” Ms. Shahzad said.

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