In India, thousands of poor children, mostly hailing from rural areas of the country, have to leave their education as their parents migrate from one place to another. Despite many schemes to improve education launched by the central and state governments, benefits are yet to reach migrant children, a majority of whom children belong to workers engaged in construction who keep moving from one city to another to find employment. Various surveys stated that their numbers are around 4-6 million in India and their parents numbers are between 20-30 million though exact estimate about such children is not available.
Migrant children are among the most educationally marginalized in the nation. In the Right to Education Act of 2009, there are provisions to benefit migrant children that are extremely difficult to implement considering the fact that seasonal and temporary migration results in disruption of schooling.
In Nagpur for instance, many migrant laborers arrive from neighboring states to work, bringing children in tow.
“However, it’s very difficult to retain them in schools,” deputy director of education in Nagpur, Mahesh Karajgaonkar, pointed out. “We have implemented many schemes for these kids and even extended benefits of midday meal scheme to attract them. We provide them free uniform, textbooks and other study material,” he adds.
Children of migrants had no other alternative but to accompany their parents wherever they go, according to assistant education officer with Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), Sushma Fulari Mankar.
“There is no viable solution to this problem, it could only be mitigated to some extent by innovative measures like conducting their classes at the working site of parents,” she added.
As Vaibhav Ganjapure of The Times of India reports, getting out-of-school children back to the classroom was a focus of the ambitious Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
“Convincing parents of such kids to let their children study and language barrier are two biggest hurdles. In most of the cases, parents do not allow kids to remain in residential camps while they keep on roaming,” Mankar explained.
Efforts to teach these children even included placing special teachers at various construction sites.
“We have relaxed all conditions for them and granted flexibility so that they can take admission to any school at any period without any documents like transfer certificates. We also erect temporary sheds at such sites so kids can study. Slowly, we’re getting response to such steps,” he said.
NMC had even opened special schools for such children and for rag pickers in association with an NGO at Bhandewadi according to Mankar.
“That school got a good response and later students were transferred to regular NMC schools. However, the NGO stopped taking interest after sometime as their funding was stopped. We still have many good plans in pipeline for such kids,” she added.