Science Teacher Buys School Bus, Drives Students to Prevent Dropouts
There are nearly 2 miles of forest between the school and local villages.
A teacher in rural India is being praised for steering his students in the right direction — literally.
Rajaram, who teaches math and science at the Baarali Government Higher Primary School in the Udupi district, took it upon himself to buy a bus and begin driving his students to and from class when he noticed a discouraging dropout rate occurring at the facility, reports The News Minute.
“There are no roads from the houses of the children to the school,” Rajaram told The News Minute. “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 kilometers to and from school.”
Dismayed by the increasingly low attendance, the teacher sought out a solution and reached out to an alum for help.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Students in Baarali & surrounding villages had to trek through 3 km forest to get to school so they began quitting. Rajaram, their maths teacher pooled his own money to buy a bus, picks up/drops kids & numbers doubled! He has changed these lives forever! #India 🇮🇳 #MustReadpic.twitter.com/n8aDUYh8A2— Navniet Sekera (@navsekera) July 8, 2018
Rajaram and Hegde pooled together the funds, along with one other alum, Ganesh Shetty, and purchased a vehicle six months ago, according to The News Minute.
But hiring a driver was still beyond their financial resources. So, Rajaram volunteered to take the wheel himself.
Since securing a license and initiating the transportation service, the school population has swelled from 50 to 90 students.
“The school starts at 9:30 a.m. and I make sure that all students are on time,” Rajaram said in the interview. “There are three teachers including me and a headmistress in our school. One of the teachers comes to school before the students from the first trip reach school. The teachers stay back in school until all the students are dropped off and I come back to park the bus.”
Rajaram and a group of former students have continued to pay for the bus’ insurance and gas out of their own pockets, according to the report. But instead of seeking out ways to pass the buck, Rajaram’s focused on brainstorming ideas to further enhance school attendance.
“I am thinking of constructing a fence around the school and also a track so children can practice sports,” he told The News Minute. “So far, there is money trouble but I am sure we will surpass that hurdle as well. The children will be motivated to attend classes if there are sports and other activities.”
Those in the community say the teacher is a beacon of hope and optimism.
“A teacher like Rajaram is a model in saving the government school from closing down,” Praveen Shetty told the Deccan Herald.