The Bike to School initiative was started in 2006 as one of our first projects. Initially PEPY* started by providing bikes to students who had graduated from Grade 6 as Chanleas Dai Primary School. We had the underlying aims that by giving the students bikes, they were supplied with not only an incentive to stay in school, but also a means by which to access further education at the secondary school, which was eight kilometers away. When we established the project, we made a six year commitment, which was fulfilled and in 2012, we ended the program.
- There was a dramatic increase in attendance retention; however, this cannot be solely attributed to the Bike to School initiative. The supplementary computer and English classes were significant contributory factors to this effect.
- In 2010, we established Bike Repair Clubs to train students in bike maintenance, which also involved a micro-lending project to enable students to pay for their own bike repairs. Not only did the clubs equip the students with practical skills and knowledge to keep their bikes in working order, but it also acted as a leadership and training initiative.
- An unexpected benefit of this project evolved from the contracts the students entered into when they received the bikes. As attendance at school was a condition for keeping the bike, when students stopped going to school, the bike agreement gave PEPY Empowering Youth (then PEPY) staff a reason to visit students and their parents and talk to them about returning to school. Therefore, the Bike to School Project inadvertently became a monitoring project for students at risk of dropping out of education.
- We recognized that this was the least sustainable of our programs, both in terms of the community’s ability to continue the program, as well as in the program’s ability to improve the capacity of the local community to solve their own problems.
- Whilst we fulfilled our six year commitment, we did adapt the program along the way in an attempt to address the sustainability issues. We transferred the project from the primary school to the junior high school, as we found it more equitable to provide bikes to those entering Grade 7 rather than providing the bikes to the Grade 6 of only one primary school.
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*Up until January 2015 PEPY Empowering Youth was known as PEPY, read more about our localization here.