Education has become a booming business today and skyrocketing school fees is a common problem faced by young parents. With such a scenario, the lower strata of the society struggle to even get their children enrolled in schools. However, this woman from Hyderabad has been changing that, one student at a time.
Beula Gabriel was born in a large family in Secunderabad. Born to an engineer father and a doctor mother who believed in philanthropy, Beula inculcated these values early on. She would see her mother help young children from underprivileged backgrounds with their early education all the way to become nurses, while her father helped many set up their own small businesses. Beula understood the importance of equal opportunities at a very early stage in her life.
She started St Joseph’s Secondary school back in 1993. “I wanted a school where children from all walks of life—from the richest to the neediest, from highly educated families to first-generation school goers—could study together,” she told The Better India.
“No child was ever sent back because they failed an entrance test. Instead, priority was given to those who were rejected by other schools due to academic, social or financial reasons. Just because their parents didn’t have an opportunity to get an education, didn’t mean their children wouldn’t. We give our best to every child, regardless of whether their parents are educated or not,” Beula spoke about the school.
Emphasizing on providing equal opportunities, the school charges nominal fees and many pupils study for free. However, tackling the expenses has been a problem. “We don’t own the school building, but our landlord is a patient man. At several times, even the nominal fees don’t come in on time, and it becomes difficult to run the school. But never in the last 25 years have we stopped a child from writing an exam because of pending fees,” she disclosed.
Despite the hurdles, this woman of steel made sure that the school keeps functioning. She even sold her house gifted by son Gerard to help with the school finances and moved into a rented house. “I know it must have hurt him deep down, but we never discussed it. I like to believe that he understood my reasons and believed in my vision,” she said. And, she also hopes her son Gerard will continue to carry the torch she lit after she retires.
Her dedication towards building a better future for the little ones is commendable beyond measure.