Migrant Children and their Education
“Sir, I am from Bihar, My husband is working here in Kerala and I find it insecure living in Bihar with my children. Thus, we came along with him and are travelling to where ever he finds work. My older son is helping his father. Even though we want to send our children to school we do not have any possibility as we are moving place to place”, said the mother of a child labourer rescued by our staff on 23. 12. 2014 at Thiruvallam in Thiruvananthapuram District.
Last week our Don Bosco-helpline received some calls related to migrant children working in different places of Thiruvananthapuram District like Thiruvallam, Kallambalam and Kilimanoor. We visited those places and found that labourers came along with their families, and children were working with them. We gave awareness about the legal issues of employing children and the importance of education. What else could we do?
Alarming fact is that there are over 25 lakh domestic migrant labourers in Kerala today with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakhs, according to a research study conducted by Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation for the Kerala government. 75 per cent of them come from five states, namely West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. It is a work force consisting almost entirely of single males aged between 18 to 35 years and is highly mobile within Kerala. There are several cases where women participate in the migration streams along with male members of their households. It is usual in such cases for younger siblings and older children to accompany their parents and to work along with them.
The study has made several suggestions like Voluntary registration, Provision of affordable housing, Health coverage etc to the government in order to improve their housing and living conditions. The government is possibly taking these steps following the concern about public hygiene and the scare of insurgents and illegal migrants finding their way into the state. The labour minister said that his department would soon come up with a new legislation for the upliftment of the living conditions of these labourers. This shows that Kerala government is seriously thinking about the welfare of the Domestic Migrant Labourers. On the other hand, there is less concern shown towards their children and their education. Sources at SSA, Kerala admit that the number of migrant laborers in the state is increasing and the education of their children being an issue due to constant movement from one place to another. The schooling system at home does not take into account their migration pattern and their temporary status in the destination areas makes it difficult to provide them education.
The possible solution for this is to make a alternative education facility in every district in the state and compulsory registration for all the families during which knowledge about this facility can be shared with them. The educational facility should have day care facility until the parents return from the work.