Sunaina Gaikwad,a tenth standard student has to walk more than an hour everyday to get to school and back. Now,she is the proud owner of a bicycle,which doubtless will save her a lot of time. Forty three students of classes eight,ninth and tenth – all children of rag pickers community got bicycles on Sunday,thanks to the initiative taken by the rag pickers union,Kagaz Kaach Patra Kashtakari panchayat (KKPKP).
“It takes us around 30-40 minutes to walk to school daily. Cycles would definitely save time,” said Priyanka Balilonde,a ninth standard student. The programme was held at the Mahatma Phule Wada on Sunday to mark the birth anniversary (on January 3) of Savitribai Phule,a 19 th century reformer,who was responsible for building the first school for girls in the city at a time when education for a girl was considered taboo.
“Though our priority was 8th and 9th standard students,we have given bicycles to 10th standard girls as well,” said Maitreyi Shankar,the coordinator of KKPKP for this event. “Most of the children go to corporation schools till seventh standard which are in the basti itself. It’s only from 8th standard that they have to walk quite a distance or take a bus to get to school. Either ways,it takes a lot of time,” said Shanker.
The organisation hopes that this initiative will help arrest the high drop out rate when students reach the eighth standard. “At least the cost of transportation or the time taken to reach school should not be a deterrent for parents or students,” Shanker said. The organisation has over the years sponsored other schemes like small cash prizes and notebook-distribution programmes.