Studying in extreme weather conditions in the desert will be a thing of the past for children of salt pan workers in Gujarat. The Gujarat government on Wednesday launched a pilot and unique project―“School on Wheels”―for the children of salt pan workers. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani introduced the project.
An estimated 1,200 children from Class I to VIII are expected to be benefited by the project. The project has been launched in collaboration with the Gujarat State Transport Corporation and involves using its unused buses for the programme.
Gujarat accounts for about 70 per cent of the total salt production of the country.
A standard bus, accommodating the school, will be stationed in the desert. The bus has a PVC flooring, 18 writing desks, LCD, ceiling fans, LED lights and a writing board. Drinking water will also be provided to the children.
Plans are afoot to introduce 30 such buses as part of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Till now, students used to study in makeshift tents and structures, which would not last through extreme weather conditions, Pankti Jog of Agariya Hitrakshak Manch that works for the salt pan workers said.
Salt pan workers move in the desert around September and are stationed there till April the following year. Jog said that this new school would be safe and comfortable. They would receive the support of the government as well as NGOs.
There are around 8,000 families of salt pan workers, who move in the desert in Kutch, Surendranagar, Banaskantha, Patan, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Bharuch districts.
The bus is 10 meters long and can accommodate around 22 students. In remaining schools, the buses will be 12 meters long and can accommodate about 26 students.
Harinesh Pandya of the AHM said that all these years, the salt department generally fell under the industries minister. However, this time it is under Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. Pandya pointed that a holistic approach was responsible for the initiative.
Mid-day meals will also be provided to the children. There are also plans to have anganwadis for children under the age of six years.