Stories that matter.
Stories that matter. Stories that matter.

In contrary to the common perception of government schools grappling with low attendance, a unique tale unfolded at an NMMC school in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. A dedicated team orchestrated a life skills programme that reshaped the prevailing narrative. Laughter echoed as children energetically engaged in a medley of games. The pursuit of life skills was seamlessly interwoven with play, as young hearts leaped, smiles blossomed, and the joyous echoes of their footsteps filled the air.

Among the members of this team were Seema Rathod, the Life Skill Educator, and Namrata Sakpal, the Academic Educator. Despite observing significant improvements in attendance due to this programme, they noted that it had not yet reached full capacity. That’s when they decided to investigate and the result of that was that the families living in the Neva Garden Patani community were facing transportation issues. Their families mainly work in unorganised sectors such as construction, wage labour, and hawking in local trains and earn a meagre income.

Subhash Pawar, a parent and daily wage labourer, shares, "As a daily wage labourer, I find it challenging to concentrate on my child's studies and school activities. The travel issues faced by our community children worry me. A bus facility would be a great help, and we would send our children regularly to school without any worries and tension."

Soni Shinde, 8th grade student at School No. 49, echoes the same sentiment, "We don't have proper facilities like raincoats and umbrellas to come to school, which makes me avoid attending. Moreover, the school is far from our community."

The Magic Bus India Foundation Steps In
Magic Bus India Foundation (MBIF), known for its pioneering efforts in life skills education through experiential learning, recognised the pressing need to address the transportation woes faced by the NMMC school students.

In December 2022, Seema and Namrata of MBIF's Bharath Bijlee project engaged with both the previous and current principals of NMMC School No. 49 - Nima Thakur and Payare Ma'am. They also held discussions with the Cluster manager, Padmaja Kadam, and DPM - Vilasini Sonavale, from MBIF - to discuss the situation and seek a remedy. They also visited the NMMT department and held meetings with Mr. Shinde - Chief traffic officer, Bhagat Sir, and Kambale Sir - Assistant traffic superintendent.

The principals, along with MBIF's Bharat Bijlee Project staff, drafted a written application addressed to the NMMC Education Department, the Samaj Kalyan Department, NMMT officials, and the Samaj Vikas Department.

Regular follow-ups by the MBIF’s team in February 2023 ensured that the bus facility received attention from concerned officials. Visits were made each month to various depots and government offices, presenting their case diligently. Finally, on 14th July 2023, their efforts paid off as permission for the bus facility was granted by the NMMT officials.

Persistence Pays Off

The bus facility commenced operations on 17th July 2023 and the inaugural ceremony was a celebration of not just transportation but also empowerment, symbolising a brighter future for the young learners. NMMT officials, school authorities, Magic Bus staff, parents, and students joined together to commemorate this auspicious moment.

"I am deeply grateful to the MBIF staff for taking this wonderful initiative and making it a reality. Such activities greatly educate both children and parents about the value of education. Now, every day, the bus is filled with happy faces of children, and as a result, all the children from the Patani community are attending school regularly," says Mrs. Payre madam, Principal of School No. 49.

Parents and students expressed joy and gratitude, pledging to make the most of this opportunity by attending school regularly.

Now, Sonia Shinde, who had previously complained about the distance to school, is finally relieved as she cheerfully says, “I will attend school regularly.”

Another student, Shankar Pawar, a participant in the MBIF’s Bharat Bijlee Programme in 8th grade at School No. 49, adds, “This bus facility is an amazing experience for me as I never travelled in any vehicle for school. I feel excited every day to come to school on the bus. I promise to come to school every day.”

An Endless Journey of Empowerment
The Magic Bus India Foundation has indeed cast a magical spell with this bus facility, transcending transportation to unlock education and dreams for the Patani community. Lauded by school staff and boosting admissions, the newfound convenience radiates hope, ensuring that dreams are no longer confined by distance, but attainable by sheer determination. Praised as 'unique' by non-teaching staff, it showcases how fundamental facilities become a community privilege.

"All children, from Anganwadi to 8th standard, are now attending school, and this year, admissions from the Patani community have significantly increased due to the bus facility. It's a commendable initiative and a unique experience for all of us," says all non-teaching staff at School No. 49.

As MBIF continues its commitment to addressing educational challenges in India, it brings to light a widespread concern. Research reveals that a significant 48 percent(1) of India's school children commute to school on foot, a finding uncovered by the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021, conducted by the Ministry of Education. This stark statistic underscores the pressing need for collaborative efforts to establish accessible and secure educational pathways for all across India. However, the exact approach to meet this nationwide challenge remains uncertain.

Nevertheless, MBIF is equipped with an array of solutions for diverse challenges. Delve into the tangible results of Magic Bus India Foundation's initiatives by exploring our Annual Report. For any inquiries, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

Research 1: National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021