Reaching the Unreached
Sunita Bai is a worker in a construction site in Bhopal. She has two children, a boy and a girl, under the age of 5 years whom she leaves at the “Child Care & Learning Centre” run by Aide et Action before going to work. Uma Sharma, the centre facilitator, looks after the children along with 20 other migrant children. “Earlier our children would roam around the construction site and often would get injured due to the construction material left around haphazardly,” said Sunita. “Now they are safe at the centre, get mid-day meal, snacks. Our children also get vaccinated regularly and most importantly they are taught.”
Sunita is one of the thousands of inter & intra-state migrant workers working long hours at construction & brick kiln sites. Though these migrant workers are part of the informal sector constituting 90% of the workforce in India, the concerned authorities, including government and construction companies, hardly recognize the importance of providing quality early care and education to their children.
According to a study conducted by Aide et Action in 2013 in worksites across 7 cities in India, 90% of children do not have access to ICDS or Anganwadi services, 65% suffer from communicable diseases, 90% do not have access to education and 40% are child labor.
Aide et Action has been providing early child care and education support to migrant children since 2013. Though initially, the focus was on to provide uninterrupted education to migrant children in brick kilns through the ‘worksite school’ model in partnership with Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the focus expanded to ensuring Early Child Care Education to children in the age group of 0-6 living in construction and brick kiln worksites.
5 construction companies in Bhopal, 3 construction companies in Hyderabad, 3 brick kilns in Bhubaneshwar and 29 brick kiln owners in Chennai have replicated our CCLC model. We provide technical support in effective functioning of these centres.We collaborated with National Building Construction Company, a Public sector company and Times Foundation to provide crèche & day care services to the children of workers in the NBCC Construction site, New Delhi.
In collaboration with Sarva Sikha Abhiyan, we are ensuring education of migrant children in primary schools through engagement of Odia speaking volunteers in Chennai.
In collaboration with Department of Police and Brick Kiln Owners, we are ensuring education of migrant children in primary schools through engagement of Odia speaking volunteers in Hyderabad.
Brick Kiln owners in Tamil Nadu have replicated our decent housing model.
Specifically, the ‘Safe, Healthy and Learning Environment for Migrant Children’ project in Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Delhi, and Hyderabad has ensured full day care services, primary health care, mid-day meals & nutritional support. age-appropriate education and growth monitoring. The project also ensured the mainstreaming of older children into local government schools as per the Right to Education Act. Back home, they were re-integrated into schools.
|Migrant children enrolled at a Government Primary School in Hyderabad.|
The childcare & learning centres have become hubs for women and adolescent girls to meet and discuss about health & hygiene, domestic and financial issues. They also spend time at the centre learning basic literacy.
During the project period, Aide et Action has organized annual zonal and state level consultations to influence policymakers to draft policies for the welfare of the children of migrant workers.
|The idyllic scenes of “kalika” (child mela) in the busy environs of construction & brick kiln sites have been regulars in the last 5 years. These melas have emerged into advocacy platforms for migrant workers to advocate for their rights and entitlements.|
The initiative of providing early child care and education to migrant children at brick kilns and construction sites has resulted in holistic development & uninterrupted education to children along with improved health services and provision for government entitlements to the migrants. In the last 5 years, the project has successfully reached out to 25,466 children in 60 worksites.