Rajaram makes 4 separate trips to collect the children every morning
One of the biggest issue’s facing children in developing countries is access to education, sometimes it can be financial but location of the villages to the school is another obstacle to be faced. Many children have to walk many kilometers to and from school and because of this, drop-outs are common. Enter Rajaram, a physical education, maths and science teacher from Baarali Government Higher Primary School in the Udapi district of Karnataka in India.
Rajaram noticed last year that many of the local children had stopped attending his classes. “There are no roads from the houses of the children to the school. There is a mud path through the forest and most of the girl students began dropping out as their families were scared of allowing their children to walk for a total of 6 km to and from school,” Rajaram says. “The children were dropping out quickly and with the head count in our school falling drastically, we were at the threat of shutting down too. 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.
It was then Rajaram decided to take action. He made contact with 2 former school pupils who invested money to buy a mini bus. They had another hurdle though, paying a bus driver. With the school unable to allocate any funds and a teacher’s salary being quite low, the trio found they didn’t have the required 7000-8000 rupees to hire a driver. Rajaram again sprang into action and learned how to drive a bus before acquiring his license so he could personally pick and drop off the students each day. Every morning he wakes up early to make four separate trips to collect the children and make sure they are all in school before 9.30 a.m. On top of giving his time to drive the bus so that his students reach the school safely, he also pays for the bus insurance and diesel out of his own pocket. Because of his exceptional efforts, the amount of students at the school has increased from 50 to 90. He has even thought of a backup plan in case he’s away – former students have offered their assistance to drive the bus on the days Rajaram is unable to.
So what’s next for Rajaram? “I am thinking of constructing a fence around the school and also a track so children can practice sports. The problem is I don’t have enough money. I have reached out to the alumni of the school and asked if they will help. So far, there is a money shortage but I am sure we will surpass that hurdle as well.”
Good luck Rajaram and we admire your commitment to helping the students of your school. Making sure that children are educated, especially girls, is an important task that, as a community, we must focus on.