SRINAGAR: At a time when coaching institutes are charging hefty amounts from students, a teacher from Nawa Kadal locality of Srinagar is providing free coaching to students from poor backgrounds, even though he has to pay a heavy rent for the tuition centres.
Muneer Ahmad Changoo, 32, began to offer free tuitions to poor students in Nawa Kadal soon after he finished his studies. Now he runs two centres, one in Nawa Kadal and another in Soura, where he teaches around 70 students for free.
“I started teaching poor and orphan students because I still remember my childhood days when my family could not pay for my tuitions,” Changoo told Kashmir Reader.
“My father worked as a casual labourer, his earning was spent on daily requirements of the family. My mother would earn two rupees from needle work and she would spend this amount on my studies.”
Changoo says that most of the students from poor backgrounds have a desire to achieve something in their life. “I don’t consider my initiative as charity. My aim is to provide them education in a way similar to those who can afford coaching,” he said.
Changoo first started offering tuitions at his home in Nawakadal, but as the number of students increased, he hired a large room in his locality. Later in 2010 he took another room on rent in Soura.
“I have many students from Soura, Ganderbal and adjoining localities. They cannot reach Nawa Kadal and many times due to shutdown and stone-pelting they suffered, so I hired another room in Soura for which I pay Rs 30,000 rent yearly.”
For the two rooms, Changoo has to shell out Rs 70,000 yearly from his pocket.
He serves as head of mathematics department at Presentation Convent School Srinagar. Besides, he teaches at another private coaching centre in Bemina where he is paid.
He says, more than 500 students have availed free coaching from him so far. His students also find his teaching techniques different.
Mahira Fayaz, a BCA student, says she was asked to pay Rs 8000 by a coaching center in Srinagar. The amount was unaffordable as Fayaz’s house was damaged in a fire incident last year.
“I had decided to quit studies because I was unable to afford tuition fee. One can arrange notes and prepare for other subjects but in Mathematics a mentor is a must,” she said. “I was frustrated but once I heard about this centre I spoke to the teacher and he welcomed me. I have been here from last year and he has not charged a single penny,” she said.
For Sehrish Jan, a commerce undergraduate, Changoo is a savior. The 20-year-old once belonged to a financially sound family, but that was before her father fell ill.
“My father is suffering from nephrology ailments. He is undergoing dialysis thrice in a week that costs around Rs 25,000. I cannot afford to pay tuition fees,” she said.
Shakir Nissar, a former student says that Changoo once arranged late evening classes for students of XII standard and he was one among them.
Changoo says winning the hearts of students is his achievement in life.
“In 2015, we had an emergency. A family member required 16 pints of blood. I was so much depressed and worried how I could manage 16 pints of blood but within one hour, I saw a queue of my students, ready to denote their blood,” Changoo said.
Changoo wants other teachers to follow suit so that no one terminates studies midway. He also has a request for the government.
“I don’t want to take anyone’s help but I want to appeal the government that registration of tuition centers, which are solely run on voluntary basis and not for commercial purposes, must not be made compulsory,” he said.