Babar Ali: How He Brought Education to Rural India at 9 Years Old – Ep. 46

Babar Ali was dubbed the “Youngest Headmaster in the World”.

At 9 years old, he created a school to teach children who couldn’t get an education. Even though I’ve interviewed many millionaires by now, I’ve been very careful to not define success on the Beat the Often Path podcast in monetary terms.

And Babar Ali is proof of why. His is an inspirational tale like you’ve never heard before, and I can’t wait to share his journey with you.

When he was just 9 years old, he started his own school in a poverty-stricken village in India. Many children in his village were unable to get an education. Instead they were working in fields or in other areas with no access to resources or tools that many of us take for granted.

Babar took everything he learned from his own education and taught it to other children in his backyard. He would go to school in the morning—10 km. away—and immediately teach what he learned to dozens of other children in the afternoon.

19 years later, he has his own school with 400 students a year, he’s been recognized by the BBC, TED, Forbes Asia, and more.

Keep in mind that we are recording this Zoom from around the world, and Babar is located in a remote part of India with no light. The audio and video may be hard to see and understand, but the core message shines through. So here’s Babar Ali. Babar Ali’s School

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7:41 – “And that’s when I founded my institution, “The Home of Joyful Learning”. The village elders were very skeptic to educate their children. Because they were not educated themselves. Hence they used their children as the helping hand.”

8:51 – “I was a student of class five and a boy of nine years old. So it was under the open sky in my family backyard. Basically, I started my school under a guava tree in my family backyard. And there was no roof, so basically under the open sky. So from 2002 to 2015, my school was in my family backyard…”

11:44 – “So day [my teacher] asked my classmates ‘why is he asking for broken chalk every day?’ … And they said ‘no, madam. He started his school and he became the headmaster. Every day he’s collecting these chalks and he’s teaching the poor students in his village.’”

15:30 – “…many people there thought that what he’s doing is horrible, he’s running a school. And they keep harassing me, and the religious-biased people, they thought that ‘what is the importance of modern education?’”

19:03 – “I started my school in the year of 2002, 19th October. And after seven years of journey, in the year of 2009, 19th October—same day—they gave me a title, ‘the youngest headmaster in the world’.”

23:04 – “…after the news on BBC, one of my mentors, Mrs. Patel (she is from India, Bangalore), and another institution, they came forward to help me to build my school. So we purchased land, then the engineer from Bangalore (and our oil reserves)—they came forward to help me.” 

25:20 – “…now we can accommodate around 400 students per year—completely free education.”

28:16 – “In the future, of course, we are going to extend our institution so that we can accommodate more students. And not only that, you see I have a big dream that I will open more schools in different parts of our country.”

32:15 – “[A girl] got admission at my school. She studied oil, and she worked a domestic helper to earn money for her family. She did her university degree. Now she became a teacher. Now she’s giving back to the society. These kinds of values in her mind, that our institution helped to grow.”

38:27 – “Of course, this is my passion. You see, I did my double post-graduation degree, I have the good educational degree. I can easily manage a job or I can earn money. Even when I became famous, many people told me that ‘you should go to abroad to educate yourself’. But you see, I didn’t ever leave my country. Ever leave my place.”

41:05 – “I’ve received lots of recognition. But on the other hand, I have also faced lots of challenges. But I always remember one thing: that is, ‘Go on bravely. Do not expect success in a day or year. Always hold on to the highest. Be steady. Avoid jealousy and selfishness. Be eternally faithful to the cause of truth, humanity and your country, and you will move the world.’” 

43:11 – “We need to think for others. Now in the whole world, there are different kinds of problems. But if we can think to solve those kinds of problems from our own way, we can bring a change. So these kinds of values, if you bring in your life, I think you can be a successful person.”

44:56 – “Do something for others who need your help. Maybe you need not open a school. You just follow your passion, which will help bring a better society, a better world for our future generation.”

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