Various educational institutions in India are ignorant about the inclusion and education of children helming from rural areas and city streets. However, there are others who are recognising the need to provide for this population to create a pool of educated and self-reliant youth, despite the challenges.
After the UK introduced the School Bus Project in an attempt to make education more inclusive, with volunteers turning old buses into mobile education centres, some states in India are also following on the same lines to contribute in making quality education accessible for all.
While walking down the streets of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (UP), one may come across colourful vans with sudokus, world maps and puzzles painted on their exteriors. These vans are designed that way to attract underprivileged children and youth.
Step inside and all you will see are science, mathematics, history and geography books; colours, puzzles, toys, maps, numerical games, stationery supplies and illustrated posters, amongst other fun teaching resources.
Welcome to the ‘mobile-classroom’, a welfare project by Larsen & Toubro, an Indian multi-national conglomerate; and Prayas Trust, a non-profit organisation (NGO) in Delhi, to bring education as well as fun into the lives of India’s underprivileged children by providing study materials to various government and non-government schools as well as orphanages.
Designed by the Children Toy Foundation, a toy store in Mumbai, the ‘Fun N Learn’ educational van aims at reaching out to every needy child and educate them, while also focusing on morality lessons.
According to Devendra Desai, founder and managing trustee of Children Toy Foundation, the project plans to visit 10 to 12 schools every month, thus contributing to the United Nations fourth Sustainable Development Goal for 2015-2030, which aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. They have several targets, including elimination of gender disparities in education, improving the quality of both primary and secondary education, building and upgrading educational facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive, among other educational goals.
As per a census report released last year, around 41 pc of Indian population is below the age of 20 years, and thus the country should carry the responsibility to drive the realisation of this fundamental goal of education for all, however with initiatives to improve the situation, things are changing for better, albeit gradually.