ISP Kolkata Bureau
At the age of nine, when most kids are busy with their games and fun, Babar Ali chose to do something which many grown-ups don’t realise. He decided to light up the lives of children with education. His free classes for youngsters became a hit in his village at Murshidabad in West Bengal. The tuition class evolved to become a full-fledged school and when he was just 16, BBC declared him the ‘World’s Youngest Headmaster’ in 2009.
The story of Babar Ali is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty. Moved by the plight of poor parents who could not afford to send their children to school, Babar Ali, a student himself, has been running a school after his school hours since he was 11.
With Swami Vivekananda as his role model, Babar Ali did not give up on his vision even while the circumstances were not in his favour. He continued his school from his home’s backyard and his education experiment became an affordable alternative for hundreds of kids in the vicinity. The state government recognised his efforts and gave recognition to his school. The village had no other government or private school and it served children from around a four-kilometre radius.
Babar Ali’s daring experiment to start a school of his own during his student days became global news. In 2009, he won the ‘Real Heroes’ title of the English news channel CNN IBN for his work. NDTV ‘Indian of the Year’ award and Literacy Hero Award by Rotary India Literacy Mission soon followed. Forbes Asia listed him in their 30 under 30 list of most influential social entrepreneur’s list and also received the Education leadership award by BBC Knowledge.
Babar Ali was now a part of the syllabus for the CBSE 10th standard English textbook and the English textbook for the Government of Karnataka. His ultimate fame with Indian household audiences shot up when he was featured on Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyamev Jayate in July 2012.
While he persisted with his teaching, Babar graduated from Berhampur Krishnath College of the West Bengal Kalyani University in English Honours and later accomplished his Master’s Degree in English and History. President of India Ramnath Kovind mentioned him and his work in his Address to the Nation on the eve of the 2020 Republic Day.
Babar’s school, which is now called the Anand Shiksha Niketan, has helped in increasing the literacy rate of his place. He believes that we all must attempt to do something extraordinary in this small stint of ours on earth.