Day 1 – Pune to Indore
July 12th, 2017
It is 8 am and the Skills on Wheels bus is going through final checks before it sets off on its inaugural journey, the Skill Yatra, from Pune to Leh, Ladakh. On its way to the official “flag off” from Hutatma Balveer Shirishkumar School, the bus turned heads – as it’s meant to – with its eclectic designing. Each side of the bus has a road with Yatra destination markers, and on these roads are photos of students using the tools from their vocational training classes.
Think back to the scene in 3 Idiots in which Aamir Khan’s character, Rancho, is finally found by his friends, after they embark on a road trip through Ladakh’s quintessential snow-capped peaks and its vivid blue lakes. Rancho is teaching at a school in Leh, Ladakh that is unlike any other. Students are pedaling bikes to generate electricity and charging spoons as a technically clever (though painful) prank.
The school in 3 Idiots and the dream of a perfect road trip sparked the idea of a journey that would carry technical education – its tools, materials, and instructors – in a bus through nine states on the way to the schools in Ladakh, especially the one that was featured in 3 Idiots.
What exactly does Lend A Hand India (LAHI) do? LAHI believes that vocational education is key to creating employment opportunities in a country with a rising population and relatively stagnant job market. We have implemented the Multiskill Foundation Course (MSFC) in secondary schools in 10 total states and 1218 total schools, by our own efforts and through partnering with each state’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikshan Abhiyan (RMSA – will be used often in the blog posts), which is the Department of School Education and Literacy. Since LAHI’s inception in 2006, it has reached 1,37,821 students.
For the past few months, LAHI has been hard at work in designing the Skills on Wheels bus that is going on this Yatra. The bus is essentially a mobile classroom that has all the tools, materials, and even the instructors to teach the 4 MSFC courses – Workshop and Engineering Techniques, Energy and Environment, Food Processing Techniques/Personal Health and Hygiene, and Gardening, Nursery and Agriculture Techniques. It is equipped with workstations, internet, a computer, projector, and generator so that every practical in the curriculum can be fully conducted. Its main goal is to reach schools that do not have the infrastructure or the resources to set up permanent ones.
The Skill Yatra is an innovative journey to spread awareness about the vocational field and why it is a necessary component in India’s overall economic growth and also, at the micro level, for individual self-sustainability. The LAHI raahis officially set off this morning on its twenty day trip up to Ladakh and back. At Hutatma Blaveer Shirishkumar school, the entire LAHI team gathered to send off the Pune-Ladakh raahis. Additional Municipal Commissioner of Education at the Pune Municipal Corporation, Sheetal Ugale, officially flagged off the bus.
The first leg of the journey was from Pune to Indore and the arrival of the monsoons painted the countryside in shades of green. While it made for a nice view, it did make the bus’s journey a bit difficult. But, the LAHI raahis managed to fix everything and ensure that the bus is ready for the tougher roads of the north.
Who’s on the road for the Yatra?
-Sunanda Mane and Raj Gilda – LAHI Founders, on a mission to spread skill education to as many schools as possible in India.
-Keshav Sul – MSFC Agriculture and Animal Husbandry instructor in Pune (student favorite)
-Sanket Yadav and Gaurav Gaikwad – LAHI team members without whom the Skills on Wheels bus would not have been possible
-Supriya, Pallavi, Swapnil – students at a school in Shivajinagar who were selected for this trip due to their hard work and excellent performance in the MSFC program
-Kanan Gole – LAHI’s blogger and social media manager for the trip (hello!)
-Shantanu and Abhishek – photographer and videographer who are used to spontaneously embarking on road trips with their gear
-Milind Mane – In charge of making sure we’re all comfortable in each city and also, summoning, with just one phone call, whatever the team needs to the highway.
Wherever the bus stopped, bystanders, with their hands clasped behind their back and inquisitive looks on their faces, gathered around the bus to see what it was all about. We expect this look to follow us all around India.
Stay connected with our journey with daily updates on this blog and on our Facebook page!