After realizing that proper education is a distant dream for his soon-to-be born child, Ahmed Ali decided not to let the coming generation suffer in privation and penury. This rickshaw-puller from Karimganj district Assam has built nine schools, ever since he envisioned the need for education, and says "I feel it was Allah's wish and blessings from locals that I could achieve whatever I wanted." "I could not attend school due to poverty. People of my village were poor and it pained me to see the children there were not able to attend schools due to the same reason. I don't want to see dropouts from poor families any more," he told IANS during a function in Delhi where he was invited as a guest.
Hailing from a village 300 kms away from Guwahati, he often ferried children to and from their schools for his livelihood.
He has even found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Mann ki baat" programme.
Ahmed Ali established his first school in his village, Madhurband, in 1978. For establishing the first school, he sold a portion of his land and donated another portion on which the building now stands. The funds for the schools were also arranged by him from his savings, daily earnings and some from charity. To ensure fund flow, he used to pull his rickshaw in the morning and cut wood at night.
In all, he has opened three lower primary schools, five middle schools and one high school in Madhurband and nearby villages.
The school, he added, was even more important for girls as "boys get a chance to go out and get an education, but girls do not".
The high school he had started in 1990 has 228 students today. "I could only manage to make arrangements for students till Class X. They don't have a place to study Class XI and XII. I need both the government's approval and funds for setting up the higher-secondary school," he said. While hundreds of students take the class 10 exam every year, they don't have the scope for higher education. "There is no nearby college. The nearest college is also 15 km away. I also want to build a college for students, but that will come at a later stage. First we need a junior college (for students passing Class X)," he added.
When IANS asked what he will tell Modi, he said he wanted all that the schools should be government-recognised so that funds were never an issue. "I will also ask him for a junior college and a college, if possible."
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