82-year-old Bengaluru resident, Badrinath Vittal, holds a master’s degree from IIT-Bombay and is a retired civil engineer. He discovered six years prior that his housekeeper required financial assistance in order to register her daughter, who was enrolled in Class 6, for tuition classes.
“My wife and I offered to tutor my house helper’s daughter for free, rather than giving her the money to enrol her in tuition. My 77-year-old wife, Indira Vittal, would teach her social studies and language arts while I taught her science and maths. Badrinath remarks, “Even my house help’s second daughter enrolled in the tuition class in a matter of weeks. His modest initiative would soon result in more than 100 kids from Karnataka enrolling in classes.
The class increased from two to eight students in 2014 after a few neighbours in the same area asked the couple to tutor their kids.
The children came from low-income families, and their parents were either daily wage workers or housekeepers, according to Badrinath. These kids were unable to return home for school when the lockdown was declared, but I was determined to carry on with this initiative, so we set up online classes. At least one smartphone was owned by the majority of their parents.
The octogenarian couple’s efforts were profiled in a local newspaper when word got out about this tuition class. As word of the couple’s story spread throughout Karnataka, more parents contacted them and asked them to tutor their kids.
The online class grew from eight students to 100, and Badrinath was spending all of his day arranging the classes and making sure that tuition and school would not conflict.
In addition, he received requests for smartphones from parents who wanted their kids to attend the classes as well.
“The pupils’ parents did not own smartphones, and they were from remote areas of the state like Haveri, Doddaballapur, or Gangavathi. I therefore asked friends and family to either buy a new smartphone for these kids, if they could afford it, or donate a smartphone to them. The response was overwhelmingly positive and more than 30 students received devices,” says Badrinath.
Badrinath works with the donor and the student’s family to make sure the device gets to the student directly. To make sure the transfer goes smoothly, he gives the donor the student’s address.
However, not just students expressed a desire to take advantage of the free tuition. Badrinath received requests for free instruction from retired professors and teachers after reading the news reports.
“There are over ten volunteers who teach various subjects,” Badrinath states. A scientist from ISRO is among the volunteers, along with some retired professors from reputable colleges and BMS College of Engineering students.
We were able to begin classes for college students and offer specialised spoken English classes, which are in great demand right now, because of the assistance we received.
Bengaluru-based Jyothi Ramesh teaches spoken English to adults and students alike. Jyothi, an English master’s graduate, says she is passionate about teaching.
He states, “A group of people who are passionate about teaching have come together thanks to Mr. Badri’s initiative. I began teaching spoken English to students in grades 6, 7, and 8 a month ago. There are now three separate sessions: one for homemakers only, one for teachers, and one for students. The lessons are more about how to use the language when speaking than they are about learning English grammar.
As of right now, 170 individuals are registered for the online courses, and Badrinath is still getting inquiries from volunteers and students. You can reach Badrinath at 9901841508 if you would like to teach, know someone who could use the free tuition, or even just donate a smartphone to help this adorable elderly couple with their project.