K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy
HYDERABAD: Given frequent migration of their parents in search of livelihood, they hardly get an opportunity to attend school.
And their days are spent either playing at the construction site where their parents are employed or looking after younger siblings. In absence of education prospects, they are forced into child labour and subsequently grow to become unskilled workers building skyscrapers in future cities.
This could be the plight of the one lakh-odd children of migrant labourers who are living on different construction sites across the city.
S. Varamma, a 13-year-old girl from Nalgonda district who presently lives at a construction site at Kukatpally, shared the similar fate.
She dropped out from the school two months before her Class VII public exams, as her family moved to the city. However, a helping hand was extended by Dr. Reddy’s Foundation through its School Community Partnership in Education Programme (SCOPE) and she is presently undergoing the advanced level course at the bridge school.
The foundation is operating 70 of such schools in the city on construction sites and educating about 5,000 children of construction workers. Children are taught reading, writing and basic subject concepts here.
Based on their progress, the students are sent to regular school. It is also running five Residential Bridge Schools (RBSs) in the city at Dhoolapally, Malkajgiri, Moosapet, Saroornagar and Maheswaram housing 600 children.
“We want to send all the children from RBSs to social welfare schools next year,” said Mrudula Vemulapati, head of the SCOPE. According to her, these schools not only provide important educational support to the children, but also safeguard them from hazards of the construction sites which are hostile places for children to live. “Most of the times it’s the children who die in accidents on sites and our schools are providing them a breathing space,” she said.
She suggest the government start residential schools, in both regular and bridge modes, in the districts with high migration rates such as Prakasam, Nalgonda, Mahaboobnagar, Medak and Srikakulam.