Shadab Hassan is a much respected young social entrepreneur. His school provides free education to poor and orphaned children through his social venture - SPEAK. IIM Ranchi is one of the many institutes that have partnered with him in his endeavor. He believes that "In social work, there are no competitors, only colleagues".

Shadab says "What we expect from people is to do what they can, with what they have, wherever they are because that’s exactly what we do".

Sahiba Sethi from IndianWeb2 talks to Shadab about his journey of being social entrepreneur and his plans and future strategies for promositing his social venture 'Speak'.

Tell me something about your education, early life and past avatars.

I   graduated in Functional English from St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi (Jharkhand) then did my MBA from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and then registrered for a Ph.D. in Management from Ranchi University, Ranchi. Despite the early financial hardship my parents faced, by the time I was born things had changed – and changed for better. They sent me to the best schools they could and made sure I did not have to go through what they went through as kids.

Once I completed my MBA I did not opt for a job and decided to start my own school instead, in my native village Brambe (20kms from Ranchi). Along with it I also started a small initiative called SPEAK under which I used to conduct workshops on effective communication for school children, graduates and post graduate students studying in different schools and colleges around Ranchi.

What was your purpose to start H.High School, Brambe

My father had a very tough childhood as a kid. He sold balloons and candies while still in school, and with that money he used to buy flour on his way back home and them my grandmother used to cook chapatis. So imagine how things would have been on holidays! Despite the struggle my father managed to find his way up, completed school, went to college and finally reached a decent position in life. But most of his friends and their children who lived in Brambe continued to live a similar life which my father had gone through.

To this I felt they deserved an equal chance to live a life I was fortunate to be blessed with. This is when I decided to do the little I could to help them get a life they deserve and education I felt was the most efficient way to achieve it.

How are you bringing a change in the lives of people in the village ?

We are using the school as an instrument to bring about the much needed social change in the area. We aren't just teaching kids in school but we are also grooming and training them on how to lead a respectable life.

Education was nowhere to be found in the list of priorities of the people staying in and around the villages of Brambe. They were happy with the fact that their children were ‘going’ to school, irrespective of the fact that whether they were learning or not. We tried to change that. We tried to help them realize the difference between going to school and learning in school. We went door to door helping people understand what good education could do to them and their children. With months of persuasion and counselling, the kids started coming to school. We had kids who did not even know how to use a toilet because they never got a chance to use one. We had to begin with basic things like ‘potty-training’ followed by basic cleanliness and hygiene sessions and for little kids. Now that they were regular, we used these kids as a bridge to connect with their parents

During our visits to these villages we realized that there were a lot of orphan an single parent kids who were not able to come to school because of financial limitations. We started getting all such kids to school and taught them absolutely free of cost. The idea was to make sure that no kids in the nearby villages stays off from school because of financial problem.

We at H.H.High School, Brambe also conduct free health check-up camps every year for all the children and their families. With this we try to diagnose/ check problems (if any) at an early stage so that those can be taken care of at comparatively lesser expense.

Being the first school in Jharkhand to start a LIVE Classroom (online classes) we try to give our kids every possible exposure a kid of their age should be getting. We believe a school in a village need not look or behave like one. We try to make our kids aware of all that is happening around them in the world. We screen movies, conduct quizzes, provide sports and games facilities. Through our Wonder Over Web initiative we make them talk to kids from different parts of the world. All this to help in the all round development of a kid.

Once these kids are moulded in the right way, they become our ambassadors and carry our message back home. They are the ones who initiate change in their respective houses. That’s how the real change begins. We call this the ‘Chain of Change’.


What makes a person take up social entrepreneurship at such a young age when you feel like enjoying all the luxuries, you have a wife, kids, etc?

Like I always say, every social initiative has a story behind it. Some are driven by experiences one faces in his own life or they draw inspiration from the struggle of others. In my case, it was the latter.

But having said that I strongly feel that working for a social initiative, in no way means one cannot enjoy the ‘luxuries’ of life. Luxury again is a relative term and the kind of families we are dealing with, we are indeed leading a ‘luxurious’ life. We eat what we wish to, we wear what we feel like, we travel wherever we want to. I think that’s too much of a luxury already.

What are your future projects?

We are planning to upgrade the school upto +2 level. We are trying our best to start intermediate commerce and intermediate arts from the coming session onwards (2015-16).

Along with this we are also working on starting a vocational training centre for the widows of the nearby villages so that they start paying for their children’s fee.

What a country like India needs to make sure that each citizen is educated?

A little realization and adding of small bits by each one of us. In a country like ours I feel there I a willingness to bring about a change but most of us are never able to begin because we keep waiting for the right occasion. Instead we should make an occasion right by starting right away. What we expect from people is to do what they can, with what they have, wherever they are because that’s exactly what we do.

Shadab Hassan speaks at TED event -


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