R. Sunil, a 12-year-old child of migrant labourers at the construction site of the new Secretariat Complex, has been out of school for the past two years.

“I want to go to school. But I have lot of friends here to play with and I am happy,” said the little boy, wearing an innocent smile.

He was denied the opportunity to go to school after completion of Class IV, as his parents had to leave a backward district of Orissa in search of better job opportunities.

V.Parvathy, another child, said she had not gone to school after completing Class IV in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.

Children such as Sunil and Parvathy had a ray of hope on Tuesday, as officials of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) carried out a survey of children of migrant labourers who are working on the construction site of the new Secretariat Complex. They would soon sit for classes and learn in a medium comfortable to them.

Over 100 children of the labourers of the construction project were estimated to be out of school.

The survey was undertaken to conduct non-residential bridge course for the children of the migrant labourers, said A.Ponnammal, CEO, SSA-Chennai.

“We have planned to conduct the non-residential bridge courses near the construction site for these children,” said R.Parameswari, District Coordinator, SSA-Chennai.

Separate classes would be conducted for the children in their mother tongue, she added. The children would be taught in Telugu, Oriya, Hindi and Bengali.

Contractors of the project said that most of the migrant labourers were from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

“Admitting these children in schools of the city is not possible because of the language barrier. Moreover, their parents may have to move to another site anytime. We will work on educating the children till they stay in the city,” said S. Annamalai, an official of SSA.

Officials said that a chunk of the parents were reluctant to reveal details to them. Some of them even prevented the officials from entering the tenements to talk to the children. Some children fled the area on seeing the officials. “Collecting details from the children and parents is challenging,” the official added.

Mobilising teachers to conduct non-residential bridge courses for these children in their mother tongue is yet another challenging task for these officials, but they said they would try their best in the interest of children.


Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012

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