Babar Ali

While many 'newsmakers' are catapulted to almost celebrity status overnight for doing hardly anything of acclaim, many others languish in the shadows despite living for others and helping change the lives of the underprivileged. Many of them remain mere footnotes to history, their extraordinary work almost snuffed out before the gale force of petty sensationalism that the world seems to find more 'interesting'. So here is an attempt to honour those who have done some extraordinary and selfless work in the society, bringing joy to hundreds of lives. This is a salute to the unsung heroes of 2012.

Here is an inspiring story of a boy with a passion to not only learn but to impart knowledge to the less privileged. This is the story of Babar Ali, the teenager who started a school when he was nine years old. In 2009, the BBC did a feature on him, calling him the "youngest headmaster in the world".

That the school was the backyard of his house hardly matter because of the good it has done in educating children who couldn't afford a formal education. What started as a role-play of teacher-student game with his friend soon turned to passion to do something meaningful in his life.

Anand Siksha Niketan came into existence in 2002 with 8 students. Now the school boasts of over 600 students, all taught by young student teachers like Babar himself. By day, the teachers attend their own classes and return home in the evening to teach others. "All the teachers at my school are former students, including my sister who was my first ever student. All the teachers are girls", says Babar.

Since the students are from poor families, he's kept education at his school completely free.


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