According to Government of India data, net enrolment for primary schools is already at 98.6 per cent. And targets for equity in the enrolment of girls are reported as being achieved. However, there are still some poor families who fail to sign up their children for primary education or keep them in school till the age of 14.
IRIN reports on a bus scheme being run in Delhi to improve school attendance among children of low-income families. A converted bus acts as a mobile school. Equipped with educational materials such as books, DVDS, computers and toys, the vehicle travels round poor districts of Dehli and picks up around 300 children. The bus then stops and teachers provide the children with two hours of lessons from Monday to Friday.
A short film made by IRIN as part of its ‘Kids in the City’ series follows the bus on a typical day. One of the teachers in the mobile school explains that having surveyed their area, they pick up children who are not in any kind of formal education. She explains that the parents of these children are not educated themselves and therefore place a higher priority on work or domestic chores. After the children have attended daily lessons on the bus for a while, the teachers visit the families to encourage parents to enrol their children into government schools. If necessary, they help with this process.
The film follows one of the pupils collected by the bus. Nisha is 10 years old and lives in Nala Camp. She tells IRIN that before the bus came, she used to see children of her own age going to school and “felt sad”. Sometimes she would even join them on their walk. Now Nisha is glad to be collected by the bus each weekday morning after she’s finished her household chores. Nisha particularly likes the teacher on the bus, saying ‘she loves us a lot’.
Nisha’s mother is shown meeting with the teacher and promising to enrol her at a full-time school. For Nisha, this is not only the chance to study, which she enjoys, but also to bring honour to her family. The ten year-old says she doesn’t want to be told she is ‘illiterate’ or that she doesn’t know anything, because she believes such statements bring shame on her parents. So she is therefore eager to get an education and for her parents to be proud of her.