Date: Thursday, January 25
Location: Telangana, India
Their tiny hands, accustomed to holding bricks, held the slates for the first time in wonder. Most of them had never worn a school dress before nor had been to a proper school. So, when a worksite school for children of brick kiln workers from Odisha was inaugurated at Peddakondur village in Yadadri Bhongir district in Telangana last Saturday, they were overjoyed.
They got new uniforms, slates, or notebooks, textbooks, pencils and pens depending on their age. Initiated by Rachakonda Police Commissioner M M Bhagwat, who received the Trafficking in Persons Report Hero award in 2017, and Yadadri District Collector Anita Ramchandran and Aide et Action NGO, the school enrolled 182 children of migrant labourers and the classes started on Monday. Aide et Action brought in five Odiya volunteer teachers trained in multi-grade teaching. They have started taking the classes from class 1 to 5 for children aged 3 to 12 years. The NGO is also providing Odiya medium textbooks and supervision of the school.
“Children of brick kiln workers are the most vulnerable to join as child labour. Without schools at the worksites, they automatically start working. Last year we had rescued over 350 children from brick kilns in Rachakonda Commissionerate area and sent them back to Odisha. Now, instead of sending them back they can be rehabilitated in the schools at the worksites, preventing them from becoming child labourers,” Police Commissioner M M Bhagwat said.
Daniel Umi, Director (Migration) Aide et Action, said that when the children return to their native villages in Odisha they can join the local school without any hassle.
“We have tied up with Odisha Government for admitting the kids who return from the worksite schools in Telangana. We will conduct exams here and give a certificate to the kids which will be valid in Odisha to take admissions there. It is a model which we have established at other places. The Rachakonda Police Commissioner has identified another 15 places in Yadadri, Ranga Reddy and Medchal areas to open schools for brick kiln children, to admit nearly 700 children. This is a huge initiative which saves them from being trapped in child labour. It is also a big improvement on the part of the brick kiln owners who are now owning up their responsibility towards the kids of the migrant labourers,” Umi said.
A majority of the Odiya migrants working in Telangana’s brick kilns are from Bolangir, Koraput, Naupada, and Kalahandi districts.
District Collector Anita Ramachandran has directed officials to extend the government mid-day meal scheme to the kids attending the worksite school, and the Rs 1 per kg rice scheme to their parents. At Peddakondur village in Chotuuppal Mandal where there are about 30 brick kilns, they did not have to construct a new building for a school. “Only 16 children from the village are attending the existing panchayat school which has a few teachers and staff. So these 182 brick kiln kids got a ready school to start with,” RDO Suraj Kumar said.
“The kids are happy because they are out of the dust, grime and pollution of the brick kilns for at least five to six hours. They play here also,” said one teacher.
Read ‘The Indian Express’ (source) article here.