When police sub-inspector Shantappa Jadammanavar left for work at 7 am on Friday morning, he took a detour from the route to his police station and reached a migrant settlement in Nagarbhavi in western Bengaluru.
He was met by a cheering group of 30 children who live in the settlement. Facing the children in front of a white board, Shantappa sets aside his police duties and engages the children for an hour on vedic mathematics, general knowledge and value education.
"I have been doing this for twenty days now. The children here (at the migrant settlement) do not have gadgets for online education. So I decided that before my shift begins, I will come here and teach the children for an hour," Shantappa tells TNM.
The police sub-inspector works at the Annapoorneshwari Nagar police station in Bengaluru and hails from Ballari district in northern Karnataka. "Most migrant workers in this settlement and in Bengaluru are from north Karnataka districts like Ballari, Koppal, Raichur and Gadag. I know the conditions the workers live in since I am also from the same region. My uncle was a labourer for ten years and lived in a hut like this. So I decided to help in any way I can with the education of the children," says Shantappa.
Shantappa lost his father at a young age and considers his uncle as a father figure in his life. He says he decided to start the classes since most children in the settlement are yet to begin their education in the current academic year and do not have facilities for online education.
He says that he is not focusing on imparting academic education because he engages with students from class 4 to 10. "Teaching academic subjects will not work since it will not apply to every child. I try and give value-oriented education and teach them what I know of vedic mathematics, life skills and general knowledge," he says.
"I don't tell them to become police officers (laughs) but I tell them that they have to be good human beings and do their bit for society. This kind of value education is useful especially at a time teachers are not able to impart it in a classroom setting," Shantappa adds.
Shantappa's initiative drew praise from many people including Karnataka's Education Minister S Suresh Kumar who visited one of the classes held by the police sub-inspector. "I am proud of the police officer. While police officials have made the news for the wrong reasons, this kind of example increases the pride of the police department," Suresh Kumar said following the visit.
Schools in Karnataka are yet to begin functioning following the lockdown imposed over the coronavirus outbreak in the country. While private schools in the state turned to online education, students in government schools had to contend themselves with educational programmes run by the state government on television.