For the past 15 years, factory owner Kamal Parmar has been running an after-school program for slum kids in Ahmedabad, India, helping them with basic skills like reading and writing and even preparing for their school tests.
Parmar’s story begins one afternoon 15 years ago. He was standing outside his metal fabrication workshop, near the slums of the Bhudarpura neighborhood, when he met a few kids returning home from the local municipal school. They were ecstatic about the end of their exams, which they claimed to have aced, so he decided to stop them and ask them a few questions. That’s when he made a shocking discovery – the students, even the older ones, did not know how to read.
“I took their exam paper and asked a few questions to some of them,” he says in a 2014 documentary titled Footpath School. “But none of them knew any answers. I thought to ask a few others. I asked them to read, but they did not even know how to read. Surprised, I asked them what did they write in their exams. All they knew was identifying the alphabet. And that left me thinking that something should be done for these children. And that is how, 15 to 17 years back I started this school.”