Could this have been the first mobile school?
If you’re familiar with mobile education initiatives, you may have heard of The Door Step School, a literacy vehicle for marginalized children in rural areas of Pune and Mumbai, India.
But the U.S. had a similar program as far back as 1906. Out of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama, came the Tuskegee Institute Movable School. George Washington Carver founded the program with the objective of bringing education to local farmers. A Jesup Agricultural Wagon, mules, harnesses, and instructional materials were purchased for a reported $674.50. A later incarnation dubbed the Booker T. Washington Agricultural School on Wheels ferried a nurse, an architect, and specialists in home demonstration and agriculture to educate the marginalized population about the latest techniques, inventions, and discoveries in their respective fields.
Termed by Booker T. Washington as a “Farmers’ College on Wheels,” the Jesup Wagon would first visit a farmer’s field to demonstrate modern plowing practices or innovations in animal husbandry or plant varieties, fertilizer applications, and soil testing. Instruction in raising poultry, cooking, preserving and canning, home maintenance, and health then would be offered to the women of the household. After visiting area farms, the wagon would then proceed to a central community location for questions and answers from men and women, young and old. Local sentiment for the Jesup Wagon was enthusiastic, and over the first summer of operation its programs reached an average of 2,000 people per month. White plantation owners also requested visits from the Jesup Wagon for instruction for their tenants in improved farming methods. — Encyclopedia of Alabama.
TagsAlabamaDoor Step SchoolGeorge Washington CarverTuskegeealternative educationantiqueblack historycollegemobile labmobile schoolruralnon foodagriculture
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