Srinagar: Rags to riches might be a cliché but the journey of 29-year-old Masrat Farooq who has risen to the position of the valley’s youngest education entrepreneur, is a classic case. It began in a two-roomed unplastered house and studying mostly by the light of a roadside lamp.
Founder of smart classes home tuition center at Karan Nagar, Masrat’s start-up offers home tutor services to students from pre-nursery to 12th standard. Starting with only three teachers in 2020, she currently has around 40 tutors working under her.
Her grit and determination have recently earned her the title “First female youngest education entrepreneur of the J&K by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
Hailing from the Eidgah locality of the old city, the toughest part of Masrat’s childhood was that “She faced abject poverty and had no time for playing,” All girls of her age would play while she looked at them wistfully.
“My mother would make me understand very sensitively that our financial situation was difficult and that she had to study to make something of herself. So much so that I used to take tuition classes when I was in 10th grade to manage the financial burden and balance the daily expenditures of her house,” she said.
As she was pursuing her graduation, her father met with a fatal accident and became bedridden. This led her to become the family’s only bread earner.
“I worked day and night to manage the household and manage the educational expenses of my siblings. Besides, we were helped by our maternal uncle. Also, with small tuition in the locality and little savings, I managed to complete my bachelor’s in arts and post-graduation in psychology from IGNOU,” she said.
It was during 2019, that Masrat realized various problems confronted by the student community and parents.
“While the majority of the students could not concentrate in online classes, a good number of them did not have smartphones. This is where I decided to chip in and help them overcome the learning crisis,” she said.
With a determined mindset, Masrat spread the word through locals and taught students in community halls. However, as more students poured in, she decided to offer the teaching services more professionally.
“Instead of bringing students to us, I thought why not go to the students. This idea clicked, I appointed a few qualified youths and assigned them to different locations for private tuitions. Within no time there was a marked change in the performance of the children,” she said.
Presently, Masrat’s tuition center caters to around 300 students as of now. Besides, she teaches underprivileged children free of cost and bears their educational expenses as well.
“From my struggles, I have learnt that home tutoring is not affordable for all parents. I believe no child should be barred from education due to their financial issues. Therefore, I continue to teach such children without charging them,” she said.
Masrat believes that there is no force more powerful than a woman who is determined to rise. “Glass ceilings, patriarchy, gender pay gap, sexist workplace policies, and just male privilege — a lot of challenges dot a woman’s path to success, but we need to take the mantle to power through them all and succeed against all odds,” she said.