Taj Ganj Welcome School

Taj Ganj Welcome School

In the shadow of the Taj Mahal, where the visitors are many and their resources often abundant, there is a small primary school operating for poor local children. This is a local initiative with limited funds.

Originally named the Sant Khabeer school, it is now supported by the Taj Ganj Welcome School Incorporated, an NGO (Non-Government Organisation) based in Victoria, Australia.

This school is non-denominational and receives no financial support from the Government. Currently the number of students is around 70 children – a better size given the small school size.

Since early 2010, the school has survived on financial support from sponsorship through the Taj Ganj Welcome School Inc., set up to resource the school, and grow its role in providing a sound primary education up to Grade 5.

The Taj Ganj Welcome School invites your support, and the school invites you to visit in Agra, in Uttar Pradesh state in India.

So when you are in India visiting the Taj Mahal, drop into the Taj Ganj Welcome School and meet Naim’s Family and all the wonderful children at the school. This will give your trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal a much richer experience.


Taj Ganj Welcome School – A Brief History

The Taj Ganj Welcome School has evolved from local need (no primary schooling in the Teli Pera area) and a chance meeting between Adam Redgrove (Englishman living in Basque Spain) and Salim Ahmad (local man) and his son Naim Ahmad in 2006.

They agreed to build a school on vacant private land owned by the Ahmad family 8.5m x 10.5m in area. The land is located about 30m down a narrow laneway from the Ahmad home in Teli Pera, a short motor bike ride from the Taj Mahal (near Naim’s workplace).

Adam was able to raise funds from friends in the UK to build a brick and concrete single storey building of two front rooms, and a rear courtyard. This rear area is the teaching area, and has a cement sheet roof without gutters, and gets saturated in the wet season. It is hot in summer, and cold in winter. It has a single squat toilet, and its own water supply (early 2010).
The school struggled for funds 2007-2009. Naim’s income from his hairdresser business becoming a stop-gap for school costs, including teacher wages.

From another chance meeting in 2009, Peter Lockyer met Naim Ahmad in his hairdresser business for a shave. Naim described the school, and a water problem. Peter and Sandra Bowkett visited the school in the following days, and impressed to the point where a support NGO was established in Australia, in November 2009.

The Taj Ganj Welcome School Inc. has been set up to support the school in funds for its operation, and for planning and possible teaching support.

What about the name of the school?
“When we initially started it four years ago it was called Sant Khabeer, I think your new name is quite good at attracting more foreign interest” Adam Redgrove

The Children and Teachers of the Taj Ganj Welcome School


The Students – Students range from very young (3 years) to grade 5 (11 years). The youngest children would appear to come along with their older siblings, a child care service in a way. They appear to be 50/50 in gender proportion, which is pleasing in this part of the world.

There are 4 teachers. The teachers are not formally trained and teach as they were taught- rote learning with a priority for English literacy and numeracy.

One teacher (Naim’s sister Rushkar) undertakes one day’s training each month.

The school is Prep to Grade 5. This allows access to further education elsewhere for the Grade 5 graduates.

School Management – Naim and his father Salim manage the school. The school hours are from 8.30 to 12.30 in summer, and 9.00 to 1.00 pm in winter. The four teachers are all young women. The school also provides a simple meal each day.

Services – The school has its own water supply, courtesy of Australian funds for a 300’ deep bore adjacent the school (in the street, the Indian way). Electricity is connected to the school from the power grid.

Naim Ahmad is inspired by Mother Teresa’s work in Kolkata. He hopes that if this school succeeds, he can start a school for the Dalits, the “ragpicker” caste who are born into a caste with no education opportunity, condemned to illiteracy and street scraps through no fault of their own. They are the real measure of India’s progress.