Teacher Holds Free Lessons For Slum Children Under A Bridge In India

Rajesh Sharma, a grocery owner from New Delhi, has been running a school under a bridge for the past seven years. The school, known as Free School: Under the Bridge, was an initiative that began when Sharma saw that the children of the area were spending their days playing around or working in the fields. He eventually persuaded the local laborers and farmers to allow the kids to attend his school, rather than have them work all day to contribute to the family income.

In 2010, when he first started using the space under the bridge for his lessons, Sharma was teaching around 50 children. According to Buzzfeed News, his school teaches nearly 200 students today. The subjects he teaches include English, Hindi, science, math, history and geography.


In 2011, Sharma’s initiative gained international attention. Because Sharma’s school doesn’t receive government funding, this prompted people to donate school supplies, paint, chairs, and a toilet for the female students to use. The area being used as a school also underwent a renovation that included chalkboards and a better structure for teachers to address the students.

“In the Free School, we are assisted in completing our homework and understand what we were taught at school,” said Pintu Kumar, a 3-year-old student at Sharma’s school. “Also, the time I spend here would have been otherwise wasted in roaming around or gossiping. The school is of great help.”

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Illiteracy is one of the biggest reasons for children being unable to break the chain of poverty. Sharma believes that education is important because otherwise the children will never have an opportunity at reaching their potential outside of their impoverished lives. On top of teaching them under the bridge, Sharma also pushes them to join government school so they can go further with their education. 

Sharma starts his lessons at 9 in the morning, and finishes at noon but his work doesn’t end there. He goes to his grocery shop to work until 10 p.m. 


The teacher said his inspiration came from seeing the children aimlessly wandering around, but also from his own live experience. He said when he was much younger he had to drop out of college due to his family’s poor financial situation. He dreamed of becoming an engineer, and then his dream became to help others finish their schooling.

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