M. Soundariya Preetha

COIMBATORE: Arun, Chinnasamy, Netaji, Rajkumar and many more students of Ravathur, over 15 km east of the city, are not idling this summer. They leave home at 6.45 a.m. and are back by about 4 p.m. They all go to the textile mills nearby and earn Rs. 35 to Rs. 50 a day. They stick labels, clean cotton and even work on the spinning frames.

"Five years ago we had a lot of students (who have written their Class X examinations) taking up jobs in the mills for one or two months. The number declined in the last two or three years. But, we have more students coming for jobs this year," says S. V. Devarajan, secretary of the South India Small Spinners Association.

This year he has four students working at his 10,000-spindle unit at Pattanampudur. They tell the employers that they will be able to work only till the school reopens. "They learn the job, though no formal training is organised." They have their family members or neighbours working in the mills. Another reason why many boys and girls in the villages are seen taking up jobs in the mills this summer is the huge demand for labour. The units are able to take in the students even if it is only on a temporary basis. The salary help the students buy their schoolbooks and uniform, Mr. Devarajan points out.

They are not monitored or trained. But working in the mill for just two months helps them find a job later. Parents do not want their children to waste time and hence do not mind their taking up these jobs. Some students who have not passed Class X examinations or have secured low marks stay back and continue working in the mill.