The long walk towards education for migrant children

Children of migrant labourers are entitled to education in their parent tongue.

It’s a Saturday, when many children are out playing on their day off. Six-year-old Kajal (name changed), from Odisha’s Koraput district, is revising her language lessons in Odia with her teacher Gulnaar at a small work site centre in Perumbakkam, Chennai. She isn’t the only one in the small room. Uday (name changed) from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh is waiting for his teacher to help him with his lessons in Telugu.

The two are part of a weekend study group that helps integrate children of inter-state migrants into the education system and keep them there, even as their parents travel for work. While the parents go to work the children revise the lessons they study at school, at the centre, which acts as a daycare of sorts. These children primarily come from Odisha and Andhra with their parents who work as labourers in the construction industry.

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The initiative by the Tamil Nadu State Education Department, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, works closely with an NGO called Aide Et Action to reach out to migrant families that come to the state for various forms of work. The 50-odd children at the centre in Perumbakkam are between the age group of 3 to 14. While those above six years are enrolled in nearby government schools through the week, the centre teaches children between the ages of 3 to 6 throughout the week. The older kids are at the centre only on Saturdays, when their parents are working.

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