To celebrate and explore the potential of student leadership, Teach For All is collecting and sharing stories from across the network and around the globe. When students LEAD, we all LEARN.

Teach For India

Masud: From being Bullied to becoming a Role Model for All

Student Leaders
Masud Shaikh , Mahim Mori Road Municipal School, Mahim, Mumbai
Adult Supporter
Shivangi Thakur
Age of Students

Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.

Masud, a young boy of the age of 13 studying in Grade 8, aspires to be an Army Officer one day. Coming from the biggest slums in India-Dharavi (In Mumbai) where even the basic things like clean water, proper toilets, food and shelter is not easy to get. It is overpopulated, cramped and confined, with an average family size of 9-10. In these conditions, it indeed gets challenging to even make it to school each day. But,Masud is different . For me,for my class, he is a student leader.He is punctual, hard working and a very brave boy. His mind is focused on his goal,an ideal child who always follows the rules and makes sure others around him too.He appreciates even the smallest of things and displays exemplar gratitude each day.
He is the eldest child in his family and is well aware of the financial conditions of his house.He tells me , “Didi, I feel very privileged to be coming to school everyday.”He then breaks to tell me the story of his father who was forced to leave school at the age of 10 and start working in an acid factory.(Child Labour)Even his fathers’ brothers’ go house to house asking for left overs and mainly survive on the water which is left after cooking rice with salt.Many of his relatives have died due to lack of proper nutrition. He seems very upset when he tells me this.He says, “My father has sacrificed a lot since his childhood and faced a lot of problems.I want to give my family the best I can and make my father proud." Till last year,he was bullied by many of his classmates for his overweight which let him to depression that he stopped eating food altogether. He did not have many friends in the class.He was perfect in his Academics , scoring the highest always and answering in the class in perfect English.However, peer pressure and bullying was something that he struggled with and cried almost every other day.Being laughed at ,he used to quietly do his work and not complain much..Always involved in his work , he never made fun of anyone and helped everyone he could .If anyone , teased him,he responded them with love and help.Slowly and gradually, through his determination and love , he is now one of the most loved boys in the class.
When asked by students in the class about their goals ; almost 70% of the boys respoded that they want to be like Masud.He has become a role model for many.An inquisitive personality, he has shown extraordinary inner strength and never-give-up attitude.Through his consistent hard work and optimism , he has proved that love is a strong force that can change things.He is an excellent speaker, debates well and questions each and every thing that even I do as a teacher.
He is well aware of his weaknesses and tries to overcome them each day in the class. Whenever something wrong happens in front of him,he makes sure to point out the mistake of that person in a very polite way,irrespective whether it is his parents,teachers or fellow students. He spreads positivity wherever he goes.He was short-tempered earlier but now whenever he gets angry, he says "I think about all my good times with my friends in the village,picture my parents in my mind and calm down".He is always eager to learn and try new things;dance,sports,arts,music etc. He tries to solve petty problems among his friends and believes that anything can be achieved with love and care, just what the world needs today.
He is a disciplinarian monitor of the class,all the students listen to him politely and come to him for help .He drives student outcomes and which impacts my class as a whole.He tells me that "If each doctor,nurse,teacher,garbage-cleaner,and every citizen of the world does his/her job with honesty and passion,this world would change drastically.And, it isn’t something very difficult to do.So ,why don’t people do it.” And I have no answer for that.For me , he is a student leader and a future leader of my country who wants to join the Army but believes that the majority of the world’s problems today can be solved through peace and love.

What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?

As a fellow/Teacher,my role has been simply providing a constant support system for Masud whenever he needed me;any time,anywhere. Giving him exposure to the various issues in the world, imbibing values in him consistently and helping him find his light and making it shine .

What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?

Consistent activities in the classroom and beyond ,where each student is pushed to think much beyond the curriculum textbooks and help them nurture their young minds. Masud is a role model for many students in my class and the rest of the school.