NOIDA: Asif Khan (13) had never been to school till school came to him one day. School, for Khan, is a mobile van visiting his slum in Sector 70 and teaching him Class 5-level English, maths and science for two-and-a-half hours daily since January 2021. “I never liked studying, but thanks to the Internet (YouTube), I developed an interest in science. So, I enrolled in a mobile van school with my father’s permission. Initially, studying was hard, but it became fun later as I started liking the subjects. The teacher helped me a lot,” said Khan, whose father is a ragpicker.Khan is among the 2,124 out-of-school children who have benefitted from the ‘Nanhe Parindey’ initiative, as part of which five mobile vans visit unauthorised settlements across the city. The initiative, started by the Noida police in collaboration with HCL Foundation and Chetna NGO, has also integrated 339 children into the formal education system-259 in schools and 80 children under the OBE (Open Basic Education) category. The mobile vans are fitted with LCD screens, sound systems, CCTV cameras, GPS and other school material to offer students access to education and exposure. Children from financially-troubled families can learn subjects like English, maths and science, as well as take lessons in arts and digital literacy, among others.According to the official data, since January 2021, 2,124 children have been given ‘bridge schooling’ and 64,826 nutritious meals through the mobile vans.Bharti Singh, the additional commissioner of police (headquarters), said the vans also provide children with sports and recreational opportunities, which help reduce school dropout rates and juvenile crime rates in the community. On Tuesday, Singh, along with other cops, launched five more such vans in the district from Police Lines, Surajpur, and Greater Noida.”Making education available to all is a must. Delivering comprehensive life-skills-based education and instigating collective social action will help to empower young persons from marginalised communities. It is our responsibility to help young talents advance their career goals so they can contribute to the nation,” said Singh.”With support from the local police station, each van reaches out to 50-60 children daily. The vans stay at a single settlement for two-and-a-half hours and then move on to the next destination. Since this is ‘bridge schooling’, we aim to get these children integrated into schools,” said Dr Nidhi Pundhir, vice president of global CSR, HCL Foundation. “The programme will also help raise social and environmental awareness through observing important days and events, as well as provide guidance, mentoring and safe infrastructure for children’s overall growth,” Pundhir said.