Stack them, put them alongside or line them up in a row - Safeducate’s mobile school concept uses re-cycled freight containers to erect schools overnight in the rural belts of the country. Divya Jain, CEO of Safeducate (the education and learning arm of logistics firm Safexpress), says, “It’s like Lego blocks. You can add space or remove, depending on the need of the area.” Showing us pictures of the said containers, she tells us that a school could vary from a single classroom to six containers. To begin with, their first container school set up on their own piece of land, commissioned two weeks ago in Ambala, will have 189 logistics students, who are all over 18 years old.
In the box
“Learning logistics is difficult in a closed environment. But with these movable classrooms we can take the students as close to their working environment as possible,” says Jain, adding that this idea came to them two and a half years ago. “Since then, we’ve done extensive research on cooling methods, insulations and checked the containers for life, rusting, etc. They have been checked though seasons to see how they withstand the elements,” Jain adds about the background work that has gone into ensuring that these ISI certified containers are safe for their students. “This is just our first draft and we are looking at making them even more self-reliant with solar panels,” she says, pointing out that this will especially be handy when setting up in rural places that have minimal access to electricity. Other points that work in favour of these 40-foot containers is that they can be turned into classrooms, labs, libraries or even toilets or bedrooms and require an investment of as low as `8 lakhs.
While these container schools will initially be set up in around 20 places like Bihar, Agra, Hyderabad and Chennai (in two months, we’re told), Jain is confident that it is the answer to setting up schools in rural areas. Given that they are already converted into offices and hotels outside the country, it might not be long before we come up with many more uses for them. “We see these being used as schools for children and even as hospitals - especially on highways, where emergency services are poor,” Jain concludes.