The fate of around 2,000 students is hanging in the balance with the Central government closing 65 National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools being run by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in Andhra Pradesh.
A majority of the students, particularly girls, studying in NCLP Schools, also known as Special Training Centres (STCs), stopped going to schools. In all, about 65 NCLP Schools were running in Guntur, Anantapur, Krishna and Kurnool districts. Around 300 staff were working in these schools.
NCLP Scheme, running for the last 18 years, was envisaged to run the STCs for child labour who were rescued from brick kilns, sand quarries, construction sites, shops and other establishments, dropouts and never enrolled children.
Through the NCLP Scheme, children will be provided education with the coordination of Labour, other departments and NGOs. Later, they will be mainstreamed in the regular schools.
“We conduct raids on houses, shops, mechanic sheds, construction sites, hotels and other establishments, rescue the child labour and admit them in NCLP Schools,” said a teacher in a NCLP School.
Vocational training was part of the curriculum in STCs and the instructors imparted training in embroidery, tailoring, bangle-making, Kalankari bags, paintings, sarees designs, beautician, craft and other courses.
Under the self-employment programme, skill development courses were conducted in making surf, phenol, liquid blue, pain balm and hair oil, to the children and their mothers. The government used to pay ₹400 per child as stipend every month, serve Mid-Day Meals, school uniforms and books for each student.
However, in April 2021, the Ministry of Labour issued orders merging the NCLP Schools in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). But, the process has not been fully completed till date.
The School Education Department has enrolled a few students of the NCLP Schools, while others have remained dropouts for the last one-and-a-half-years.
“More than 50 students were studying at the NCLP School located at YSR Colony. Same was the situation in Kanchikacherla village in NTR District. After the schools were closed, many children stopped their education,” said a villager.
NTR District Education Officer (DEO) C.V. Renuka, who visited YSR Colony recently, said the students of the NCLP School were admitted to the local government school.
“We have allotted two teachers for them. Instructions have been given to the teachers to visit the houses of the students and ensure that they attend classes. Additional classrooms will be constructed under Nadu-Nedu for the children mainstreamed from NCLP School,” the DEO said.