"The major problem we identified was that while their parents go to work children do not stay in schools. So we planned for the two-hour class in their slums" said B. Lavanya Latha, Assistant Labour Officer

Crooning ‘Chitti chilakamma’, a group of children learn their lessons in Bathakamma Kunta slum. Most of them are children of construction workers, domestic maids and rag pickers who stay in ‘jhuggies’ in this labour adda.

They are the first generation taking to education, thanks to School on Wheels - a mobile education van for children of construction workers, envisaged by Minister of Labour, Employment, Training, Factories and Boilers Department Danam Nagendar.

The pilot project was launched by the Department of Labour and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan on December 4, 2011, in Bathukamma Kunta and Manikeswari Nagar.

Teaching aids

Initially, the touring van with audio-visual teaching aid and black board was aimed to teach few, but with the number crossing 100 students, the next best option was to conduct classes in the open air.

“The idea is to prevent children from becoming construction workers. We want to provide bridge school before we enrol them into private schools. We have been successful in streamlining six students, now studying in Kallam Anji Reddy Vidyalaya at Chandanagar,” says S. Naresh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Hyderabad - 1.Choosing a residential school was the best option, says Mr. Kumar, as the risk of dropouts in day school was high.

“The major problem we identified was that while their parents go to work children do not stay in schools. So we planned for the two-hour class in their slums,” says B. Lavanya Latha, Assistant Labour Officer.

It has been a challenging task for K. Balakishanji, a retired Gazetted Head Master, who takes the lessons with Vidya Volunteers. “We use the ‘aata paata’ and VCDs to keep them interested,” he says.

Lessons are taught in Hindi, Telugu and English since migrant workers hail from various parts of the country. A major incentive for children is the mid-day meals provided by Naandi Foundation. The local Mathru committees oversee running of the classes.

Padma, a domestic worker, is glad that her five year old son Anji is getting educated. Thirteen years old Hemanthamma from Mantralayam, who dropped out of school after attending Std. 3, is eager to join a mainstream school. Here’s to the optimistic spirit against all odds.

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