Every weekday, fourteen girls get into an autorickshaw to travel 6 km to the Zilla Parishad school in Rapthadu. It is not a very safe ride as these pictures will tell you. These vehicles are not the most well designed and on roads that are more slush than tar, always run the risk of turning turtle.
The girls travel by this mode of transport because the other option is to drop out of school. That is what for several years, girls in Ayyavaripalle village in Anantapur district have done. Once they passed out of class 5 at their Telugu medium mandal parishad school in their village, travelling the distance to Rapthadu was not an option because no RTC bus plied on the route.
Till this year, when a group of 12 engineers stepped into Ayyavaripalle. They pooled in money to pay half the monthly fee of Rs 7000 towards the autorickshaw. The other half is paid by the parents.
“The boys in the village did not opt out of school because they could ride bicycles to go to Rapthadu. The girls did not. So we concentrated on girls to ensure they could commute to school. But despite giving a request letter to the authorities six months ago, there has been no response. Even villagers have to depend on these autos to travel to the town,” says Chandrakanth, a software engineer who works in Infosys in Bengaluru and hops in to Ayyavaripalle every month to do his bit.
These 12 engineers are alumni of the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) in Anantapur. One and a half years ago, they formed `Pravartak’ that focused on improving quality of education in Ayyavaripalle. They had initially planned to educate a few children but soon realised the problems were far greater. They crowdfunded an amount of Rs 85000 to renovate the school and from this year, converted class 1 to English medium. Next year, both classes 1 and 2 will be made English medium and over five years, all classes will move from Telugu medium to English medium.
The move has enthused parents too. From an initial enrollment of ten students in class one, the number went up to 18 once the medium of teaching was changed to English.
`Pravartak’ hopes the new Jaganmohan Reddy government will sanction a RTC bus route that plies through Ayyavaripalle to Rapthadu, so that there is never a reason for any student, especially girls, to drop out of school.