Bengaluru: Campaigning in Farrukhabad, U.P., some years ago, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid was pushing through the throng when he felt his kurta being tugged. Repeatedly! Looking around, he came face to face with two feisty young girls, asking for money!
"I was on a election campaign where I was the candidate. If I had given them any money, the press would have accused me of distributing cash for votes. So I told my assistant to look into it, and find out exactly what they want, and he did just that, and gave them some cash,” he told Deccan Chronicle on the sidelines of an event to launch the Delhi Public World School here in Bengaluru.
Khurshid says he promptly forgot all about it, until weeks after he had won the Farrukhabad seat, he was back in the town to thank the people and was accosted by the girls again. "As I was climbing the stage to address the gathering, I felt my kurta being pulled, and there they were, the same girls. I was shocked to see them. I found out how old they were, that they were not in school. So I told them that I would be coming to their house to meet them after the meeting. They thought that I was just making excuses to avoid giving them money, but I found out where they lived and went and met the mother, who was as shocked and surprised, as the girls, when they found me at their doorstep."
Khurshid wasn’t greeted with open arms though. The girls' mother, when asked why the 13 and 8 year old were begging on the streets instead of being at school, lost her cool.
"The mother asked me to look at the condition of their house and decide whether she could afford to send them to school or not. Even when I offered to pay for the school and take care of them, she was adamant, saying that if she sent them to school she would lose her primary source of income - the money the girls collected while begging. She was livid. I quietly went away," he recounted.
Days later, the woman managed to get Mr. Khurshid's address and turned up at his door in New Delhi. "She told that she wanted to send their daughters to school. I asked her why she had changed her mind. She replied that her neighbours had told her that she had missed a golden opportunity. I immediately called up my friend and made arrangements for them to study at a school in Sonepat," he mentioned.
"They've been transformed, to such an extent that you cannot even make out the difference between them and the children brought up in city. They are doing well in academics and sports too, winning awards and tournaments. The challenge for me was that to ensure that they would not go back to their old style of living. I have helped eight children in similar fashion and every responsible citizen should help in providing poor children with education," he concluded.
Delhi Public World School in Bengaluru by next year: Salman Khurshid
The city will have a Delhi Public World School offering a CBSE syllabus by June 2018 , according to former Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, who is life trustee of the Delhi Public World Foundation, that is establishing it in Bengaluru.
Speaking to reporters here on Thursday, he said the school would give as much importance to sports and other extra- curricular activities as to academics. “Most parents want their children to score high marks and tend to neglect extra- curricular activities, but we believe in giving equal importance to both,” he added.
The school will be located near the 8th mile junction on Tumkur Road and admissions will open initially from nursery to class 5. The school will later be expanded upto class 12.
Assuring that the fee structure would be standard, Mr Khurshid said those who could not afford it would be supported through scholarships.
“It is a completely different venture as we are not encouraging giving away franchises to set up the schools. Rather any individual or organisation interested in starting the school can become a member of the Delhi Public World Foundation, and it will help them in setting it up provided they would have the required infrastructure and other necessary requirements to operate it,” he explained.
The foundation, started two years ago, already has 30 schools operating in various parts of North India. “In 2018 we are expecting another 20 schools to be opened and by 2019 we would have around 100 schools across the country. We already have 130 members, who are interested in setting up the schools under the Delhi Public World Foundation. We also have a separate Education and Resource Council, which focuses on developing the curriculum, imparting training and holding workshops for teachers and other developmental activities. We have also tied up with the education system of Finland, to support us with regular guidance. Digital and creative learning has been introduced upto class 6, as it is an effective method of teaching” he added.