Eight-year-old Chandni wakes up early to get ready for her unusual journey to school. Staying in East Delhi’s Chilla Khadar village, she picks up her school bag and hops on a boat while an adult ferries her and a few other children over the Yamuna to a pavement by the DND flyway. From there, the children walk for about half-an-hour to attend classes at Gautam Buddha Nagar Park run by an NGO school named Gyan Shakti Vidyalaya.
“If they were to walk, it would take them about 1.5-2 hours to get to school,” says 21-year-old Shankar, who was rowing the students across the river on the day InUth‘s correspondent journeyed with them. According to Shankar, there have been times when their boats have capsized, but it’s still better than the long journey by road, which adds the threat of meeting accidents due to the swift traffic at DND.
As per the Right to Education Act, primary school students shouldn’t travel more than 1 km to school, a limit which extends up to 3 km for students of higher classes. Yet, without any alternative for schooling or transport, these students have no option but to settle for a boat ride, at least for now.