Sixteen-year-old Mehek and 13-year-old Mehika Sharma, both sisters, do not watch television, play video games or surf the internet when they get back home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They instead, open up books and get down to teaching English and Mathematics to around 50 poor kids in the neighbourhood as both these subjects require extra effort, according to the girls.
“These kids do get to learn grammar from their textbooks in school, but beyond that their knowledge of English is weak. They always speak Hindi in their schools, even with the teacher, and therefore when they first come here most of them cannot manage even a sentence in English,” said Mehek, whose father, a Naval officer, has made arrangements in their home to accommodate the 50 children who troop in twice a week and sometimes more if exams are on and they need help.
“They first started by teaching the servants’ children, and then it slowly expanded to their neighbours when the children started to show marked improvements in their studies,” said Captain Sharma, adding that with the expansion more “teachers” were also added.
The friends of the girls and their school mates from the Naval Children School, where they studied, joined in. “Our friends Rahel Pilipose and Arundhati Rawat also teach now; we usually divide the children out so we can give them individual attention,” said Mehek, adding that they usually ask their own teachers to help them become better teachers.
“If I am teaching English, I ask my English teacher how best it would be to teach a particular thing. The children who have been taking our classes have improved so much, they almost speak like us and their confidence has also increased.”
The “children” too seem to be happy and said thanks in a very special way this Teachers’ Day to their very young teachers. “They performed a dance. We knew they were planning it all along but still it made us happy.”