Special Correspondent

Students will be get a transport allowance of Rs. 100

Bangalore: Kalasipalya in Bangalore has a spacious government school that can accommodate 500 children. But the student strength of the school is a mere 35. On the other hand, D.G. Halli has a large child population but insufficient government schools to cater for them. In these haphazardly planned urban clusters, there is no designated space to open new schools.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has now come up with a scheme that will, hopefully, ensure that children in these areas do not miss out on schooling for reasons of distance. They will now get a transport allowance of Rs. 100 a month so that they can get to school even if they are not located close by. Around 10,000 children in Bangalore are expected to benefit from the scheme, which will start in July. Other cities such as Mysore, Gulbarga, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad will also benefit from this project. Money will be directed through School Development and Management Committees, which will then work out a strategy to transport children.

SSA Project Director Atheeq points out that a scheme of this kind is necessitated by changing habitation patterns, especially of the urban poor, which emerged in the course of the child census conducted by the SSA. “They are increasingly moving to the outskirts. Often many of the new localities are not planned and there is no space to start a school,” he says. Though a child, ideally, should have a school within a 1-km radius, lack of urban planning sometimes makes this impractical.

SSA Programme Officer Prabha Alexander adds that the transport strategy was evolved under the Alternative Innovative Education programme. The household survey conducted for the census had identified problems related to school enrolment, one of which was transport.

This is particularly true of children who have dropped out of or go to minority language schools, which are fewer in number and not found in all localities. G. Rajarajeshwari, Deputy Project Coordinator, Bangalore Urban, says that this will help not only children who have dropped out but also those who are enrolled in schools that function from buildings that do not have facilities, many of which are minority schools. Some of them function in mosques and temples. Such children can now travel to multi-level complex schools, she says.