A teacher in India has taken it upon himself to purchase and drive a school bus, all in an effort to ensure that his students do not drop out, The News Minute reports.
While most nations have formal, government-run education systems, plenty of students around the world still face the simple problem of having to travel to and from school. Take the students at the Baarali Government Higher Primary School, in the southern state of Karnataka, for example. In the last couple of years, school staff noticed that students, female students in particular, began to drop out due to a lack of infrastructure and roads.
In this particular area, there are no roads between the school and the homes of its students. To travel to and from school, students had to walk through three kilometers (approximately two miles) of forest area, along a mud path. Unsurprisingly, many families were weary of letting their children, especially young girls, make this journey twice in one day.
Rajaram, who teaches mathematics and science at the school, took it upon himself to solve this problem. He reached out to one of his former students, Vijay Hegde, who runs a property management company.
“The children were dropping out quickly and with the head count in our school falling low, we were at the threat of shutting down too,” Rajaram told The News Minute. “One evening, I had finished counting how many children had dropped out and I was upset. Every week at least five to six students were not turning up. I called up one of our former students – Vijay Hegde and proposed the idea of buying a bus to pick up and drop the children.”
Half a year ago, Hegde, Rajaram, and another school alumna, Ganesh Shetty, all chipped in money to purchase a bus for the school. Rajaram realized that hiring a dedicated bus driver would eat into the school’s budget, so he took on the role of bus driver (in addition to teaching) in an effort to save money.
After acquiring a license to operate the bus, Rajaram put together a pick-up and drop-off service, in order to shuttle the students to and from school. Once the shuttle service began, school attendance increased by nearly two-fold, jumping from 50 to 90 students.
Each morning, Rajaram leaves home at around 8 a.m., and makes four trips to the school, totaling around 30 kilometers (19 miles). He also covers the cost of gas and insurance on the bus, in an effort to save the school money. Fo his next project, he has his eye on constructing a running track for the school, allowing students to practice for track-and-field events.