Eight-year-old Nirmal has started thinking about his career and now he is very serious about studies. "I want to be a police officer," he said, talking about his future plan sitting in a moving classroom in a bus. Not only Nirmal, several underprivileged children who were deprived of the studies now join him in the 'Classroom Bus' for study.
Every day four buses that have been converted into moving classrooms ply on Delhi's roads to provide education to the children living in slums. These buses aim to provide education to such children who have not been to schools. Presently, about 50 children are studying in these classroom buses and most of them are rag-pickers. These four buses go to different locations in Delhi for this nobel cause.
There is a driver, a helper and two teachers in every bus. A black board is installed in the bus and children are also provided with slate and chalk. Besides, food is also available for children. Non-government organisation 'Tejasia' has named these vehicles "Hope Buses". Tejasia is involved in social works since last 10 years and it has taken responsibilities of these children. This project was started many years ago with a single bus and now the number has reached to four.
A team of the NGO does survey of a particular area to find out if number of children who need to be educated are more. Then a bus is sent to that area. Presently, the buses are visiting eight such locations in the national capital. In the last several years, many children who studied in these buses got enrolled in government schools.
Besides basic education, the children also learn social etiquette -- like how to live, talk or behave.
Ebna Edwin, working with the NGO, said, "We are teaching children in Kamala Nagar, a colony in R.K. Puram and Gurugram."
It starts at 9 a.m., the bus reaches all the locations in an hour, after which a class is held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. After that the same bus goes to another location to teach other children from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
According to the NGO, 80 per cent of the children are those who have never attended school. There are also some children who are school drop-outs. Parents of these children are very poor and belong to labour class like rickshaw puller, household worker and rag-picker etc. Though there is a small school in addition to the bus, but due to Covid, it is closed these days.
About 40 volunteers are associated with this NGO, while about 900 children have been provided education so far. There are more than 20 teaching teams. Teachers prepare children for admission in government schools. The NGO also helps children in getting the documents for the admission. Interestingly, the teaching teams also include teachers who lost their jobs due to Covid and now they work with the NGO on a token amount.