India- For the children of India’s slums, a mobile classroom on a bus offers the only chance of an education in a country home to extreme poverty.
In the dusty and noisy slums of Hyderabad in south India, an innovative mobile school on wheels weaves through the city stopping at various locations. From rickety tarpaulin huts barefooted children emerge, aged 10 years and under. Their eyes bright with excitement the children clamber aboard the bright orange bus to receive the days schooling.
The mobile classroom is the brainchild of school teacher T.L. Reddy- founder of the non-governmental organisation CLAP Foundation. It offers the children of India’s slums free schooling for the few hours they can spare before they go back to working as child-labourers. Reddy, who has been a teacher for 25 years said the project was originally set up in temporary tent shelters in the children’s slum to give the children a basic level of education.
Three years ago, after receiving donations the school went mobile to attract more youngsters. “These children have no time to go to school, unless the school comes to them,” said the teacher.
Inside the bus the walls are decorated with pictures of animals and fruits. Numbers and letters from the alphabet stretch along one whole side of the bus and benches line both sides end to end. Children write on slates perched on their laps with chalk as a teacher walks in the middle giving the day’s lesson. On some days pupils have to sit cross-legged on the floor because the bus is so full.
The plan, Reddy says is to get as many children taught to a level where they can join Government schools. Up until now, around 40 children have gone on to these despite the significant odds stacked against them.
However, the mobile school’s achievements may be something more humble. In the few hours they are with us, the children are given a chance to be kids, said T.L. Reddy.