Prof. Sandeep Desai - The Man Who Begs In Trains To Build Schools

The first thing that strikes our minds when we think about education is gaining knowledge. Education is one of the basic necessities these days. However, there are yet many sections of our society who are either deprived or unable to receive an education. In such times, one college professor has made it his life’s mission to build schools for the impoverished. 

Need for Education 

With every passing day, there is an increasing need for education in our society. The importance of education in today’s world cannot be stressed enough. People need a good education to be able to survive in this competitive world. Apart from this, education helps one to know about their rights as well as their duties. Education is one of the greatest ways to empower an individual. 

However, many fail to understand the importance of education. The government has come up with various schemes and facilities to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the country. Unfortunately, there are yet many who do not send their children to school. 

Source: Flickr

Reasons Why Parents Don’t Send Their Children To School 

With 65 percent of the population residing in rural India, education there truly deserves much more attention, especially when it is plagued with so many problems. These problems force students from rural areas to drop out of school and discontinue their education. 

1) Lack of Awareness: 

The parents themselves are unaware of the importance of education. At times, some parents belonging to the marginalized section of the society feel that education is for the rich and the well-to-do. They are unable to comprehend the fact that even basic education can help change their lives. 

2) Distance: 

The distance between the school and the residence is one of the major reasons. If these schools are located far away from the residential areas, parents are unable to get their children to school every day. The rural parts of India are already struggling a lot when it comes to local transportation. This problem poses a huge threat to education in rural Indian due to limited or no schools in the vicinity. 

3) Girls deprived of education: 

The majority of girls from rural areas are deprived of their education. Many parents in villages still believe a girl child to be a burden on the family. The girls have to follow many rules and many restrictions are imposed on her. The girls who manage to attend school are not able to participate in the educational process due to gender and caste-based discrimination prevalent in schools. 

4) Lack of proper facilities: 

Usually, you will find all the English medium private schools in metropolitan, urban, and semi-urban areas. In rural areas, we usually find local government schools. Many of these schools do not have proper facilities like proper washrooms, etc. Around 22.8 percent of rural schools surveyed have unusable toilets, finds the 13th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Rural 2018

5) Teaching staff: 

The shortage of teachers, teacher absenteeism, and poor quality of teachers are some of the major problems in rural schools. Attendance and performance of students in rural schools is another yardstick to measure the accountability of teachers in those schools. 

6) Financial Burden: 

The biggest barrier is the financial burden. Everyone is well aware of the rising school fees. Unable to bear the burden of paying such high fees many parents do not send their children to school. 

One man has made it his life’s mission to build schools in rural areas to provide good quality education to the children residing in villages. 



Who is Prof. Sandeep Desai? 

Sandeep Desai is a resident of Goregaon in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He is a former marine engineer and an academician. He was an ex-professor of the S P Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai. He is famously known as the Mumbai man who begs on local trains. Prof. Sandeep aims to start rural English medium schools across villages in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Bihar. 

What inspired him? 

Prof. Sandeep Desai found his true calling when he decided to collect donations and build schools for children living in rural areas. It was his parents who inspired him to start his missions. They imbibed in him the value of charity in education. His mother was a teacher and used to teach rural children maths and science. 

As a child, Sandeep saw maids in his neighborhood slogging hard for a day’s meal, while their children sat helplessly and never went to school. It was his mother who would volunteer her time and energy to educate these children every day. 

“My mother used to inspire me to educate children who could not afford it.” 

Prof. Desai made it his life’s mission to provide free quality English education to children staying in rural areas or slums. For this purpose, he wanted to build schools in villages where there was a lack of schools. However, the major drawback of his mission was the lack of funds. 

“The level of education in a private school in the city and a government school in a village is different enough to be considered in two separate worlds. I wanted to give every child a level playing field. I realized that one necessity for this was to make English-medium schools accessible and available in our villages,” said Professor Desai. 


Prof. Desai founded the Shloka Missionaries Trust in the year 2001. His first mission was to convince the parents to send their children to school by making them understand its importance. Shloka Missionaries is a Public Charitable Trust registered under The Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, with Registration No. E-19428 (Mumbai) dated 22.05.2001. 

“We figured if the element of financial burden was removed, more parents would send their children to a better school.” 

Once the parents agreed to send their kids to school, the next on his list was collecting funds. This was the biggest and the most daunting task. Initially, Prof. Desai visited various corporates asking for funds and donations. Additionally, he wrote to over 200 corporate companies asking for donations from their Corporate Social Responsibility fund. However, he didn’t even receive a single response. 


After initial days of frustration, he decided to directly approach the common people. Prof. Desai was aware that door-to-door campaigns may not bear much fruit as people would not answer doors and wouldn’t listen to him. 

Prof. Desai wanted a platform where he could easily capture the attention of a large crowd and get his message across. He thought to himself, what better place than the Mumbai Locals. 

“In trains, I get an active audience who is ready to listen to what I do and make a contribution.” 


Collecting funds in trains is not as easy as it sounds. Prof. Desai recalls that on the very first day he could not get himself to reveal the box. But something within him gave him the courage to stand and get going. 

“I told myself, it’s now or never,” says Prof. Desai. 

While nobody dared to give him a single currency note back in the day, he made Rs 700 in coins of different denominations on day one. And since then, there was no turning back. Every day, Prof. Desai courageously enters the Mumbai Local making his way through the huge crowds in the trains to promote the notion of VIDYA DAAN. He carries around and displays laminated newspaper articles talking about his noble work. 

“Vidyaa Daanam – Shreshtha Daanam
Gramin shetron mein hum angrezi maadhyam ki nishulk schoolein chalate hain.
Agar aap kisi bhukein koi khaana khilaate hai uska palan aap sirf ek samay karte hai
Agar aap usi ko shiksha dete hai toh usko aap zindagi bhar aone pairon par khada kar dete hai.” 

Prof. Desai hands out his visiting cards to passengers. He talks about his work and mission to the commuters inviting them to donate towards the cause of education. Some people slip in notes of varying denominations into the transparent donation box. Others ignore. Irrespective of what amount, Prof. Desai He bows down and thanks each one with utmost gratitude, irrespective of the amounts they donate. 

The Barriers Along The Way 

The initial days were very tough. Prof. Desai recalls several instances of verbal abuse, insult, name-calling, trolling, and humiliation. Some days were so tough that Prof. Desai would break into tears. In 2015, when there was a crackdown on fake trusts collecting money in the trains. 

Prof. Desai was taken by RPF to Railway Court along with other hawkers and agents hired by fake trusts. The case continues to be on record with hearing dates getting delayed for over 2.5 years now. However, he didn’t let anyone or anything stop him. 

Very few truly believed and trusted that this man would go and build a school for slum kids. It took him five years of train journeys to be able to make the first school run by the Mission in Goregaon. Once people got familiar with his work, they soon began to generously contribute to his cause. Some even went out of their way to help him. 

Now, Prof. Desai has built and continues to build schools in villages across different states. He has built schools in villages in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, U.P., Bihar, etc. He works completely per the necessary rules and regulations. Apart from receiving free education, the students also receive free meals in the school. 

With some acknowledgment of his work and the internet revolution, he is now raising the funds on various online platforms. Prof. Desai also gives various talks about his mission and the importance of education. 


How Can We Contribute? 

· Prof. Sandeep Desai is very active on his personal Facebook account as well as his official Facebook page. He regularly posts about the necessary requirements. 

· Donate to his cause. Details of the same are available on his personal Facebook page. 

· Be a ‘Shloka Vidya Sevak’ volunteer and help him in his mission to educate India. 

· Foster a child who is an orphan or whose parents are struggling to make ends meet. You may get in touch with Prof. Sandeep for more details. 

Contact him on 9322757030, 09167587739, or email him on, You may also directly get in touch with them via Facebook. 

We salute Prof. Sandeep Desai for all that he is doing for the better future of so many children across different states. 

What inspires you the most about Prof. Sandeep Desai? Share your thoughts with me in the comment section. 

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