India: ‘Educate Connect program’ to reduce school dropouts among children of migrant workers
According to the India census 2011, there were 92.95 million internal child migrants dispersed across the country, with present-day figures likely to be much higher. Studies indicate that these children are more vulnerable with higher probabilities of child labour and discontinued educational opportunities. The current COVID pandemic has further exacerbated the vulnerable situation of such periled groups. To address these challenges, Aide et Action initiates the ‘Education Connect Program’ which ensures continued learning for returnee migrant children in Odisha.
9-year-old Laxmi’s family temporarily migrates every year from their village in the Balangir district of Odisha to Hyderabad in Telangana to work in a brick kiln. For Laxmi, this year was no different from last year, except she was unable to attend the local school at destination as it was closed due to COVID restrictions. After spending a considerable amount of time at the brick kiln, Laxmi and her family returned home in June, only to discover that the school in their village still remained closed.
With uncertainty looming over the reopening of schools due to pandemic, the ‘Education Connect program’ offered a ray of hope to Laxmi to resume her education. The ‘Education Connect program’ is an Aide et Action’s initiative that aims to provide remedial education for returnee migrant children during the ongoing pandemic. The centre functions at a community identified government school building where 30 returnee migrant children attend every day. Laxmi and her siblings too were enrolled. The children spent the next 3 months revisiting the concepts that were earlier taught to them. The volunteer focused on engaging children by adopting age-specific teaching methodology.
“I almost forgot whatever was taught to me earlier. It was very difficult for me to resume my study. The 3 months remedial classes were a new life for me. The sikshya sayak (Education volunteer) taught us innovatively and I could learn English, Mathematics quickly and I could read English books as well. I can do basic numerical as well,” said Laxmi.
“We were very much worried about the future of our children. Heartiest thanks to Aide et Action and the volunteers for this great work, we are obliged,” said Nitya Rana, father of Laxmi.
“We enroll migrant children in a neighborhood school at worksites and reintegrate them in their village school after they return. Due to the pandemic, the schools are closed. So they couldn’t study at their destination. This year, we surveyed returnee children and started teaching them as per their learning competencies at these learning centres in source villages,” said Lochan Sahu, Education volunteer.
As a result of this initiative, Aide et Action has been able to maintain migrant children’s interest in learning, thereby decreasing school dropout rates arising due to prolonged closure of schools. In total, 2,500 returned migrant children in Odisha’s 3 most migratory districts are enrolled in the programme.