I had covered the distress migration of children in a story in the Pioneer in November,15,2010.
with best wishes
BHUBANESWAR | Monday, November 15, 2010 | Email | Print | | Back
Distress migration afflicts Odisha’s child labourers
November 15, 2010 9:12:57 AM
SUDHIR MISHRA | BALANGIR
Even as the entire nation observed the Children’s Day on Sunday, sending the message that a child is the future of the nation and need to be nurtured and grown properly, hundreds of children from western Odisha migrated with their parents to work in inhuman conditions for prolonged hours in the brick kilns and in other spheres in , and other States.
“I have no other option but to migrate with my parents due to poverty and food insecurity and my parents cannot afford my education,” said Tapaswini Parta of Talijuri village after returning from Andhra Pradesh in June.
Every year, around 40,000 children migrate from the district alone, help their parents in the brick kilns, perform all sorts of hazardous works living in perilous conditions and facing exploitations of all kinds, physical, mental and other abuses, revealed Santosh Padhy of Action Aid.
Constituting important parts of Pathuriaa, the unit of migrating family, comprising wife, husband and children, the below14-year-old children accompany their parents to the brick kiln sites to work as carriers of raw bricks and other there. Nuankhai, that marks the beginning of festivity in the western Odisha, also begins the process of migration.Migration is going on in this region for the last four decades and to accompany their parents, the children also migrate with them.
“It is disgusting that distress migration, especially child migration to the brick kilns, going on from the region for the last few decades should be stopped. The organisations should rethink and redraft their strategies to prevent this,” Action Aid Amar Jyoti Nayak had observed few months ago while speaking at the Balangir Zilla Lok Sammelan.
Notably, Balangir district is not the lone case of child migration. It is also taking place in Nuapada district and Padampur subdivision in Bargarh district, ironically dubbed to be the of Odisha, Nayak rued.
Every year, out of the 30,000 people migrating from Nuapada district, 13 per cent are children. The number usually goes up in a drought year, said Abani Mohan Panigrahi of Lok Drusti, Khariar. A survey by the Lok Drusti in 2004 revealed that 1, 4455 people, including 1,036 children migrated from 120 villages in Nuapada district.
Such a migration is also continuing from Gaisellete, Jharbandh, Paikmaal and Padampur subdivision in Bargarh district.
According to a report of the Samuhik Marudi Pratikar Udyaam, Padampur, around 20,000 people migrate from western Odisha and other parts of Chhattisgarh every year. Those who migrate to other parts of western Odisha to harvest paddy, also carry their children. And, those who migrate to Raipur (Chhattisgarh) to pull rickshaw to earn their livelihood, also carry their children. One-fourth of the total migrant constitutes the children.
Migration has become a big business in western Odisha. As the poor get a huge amount of money at a time, they are migrating. The total advance amount given by the dalals/sardar in Nuapada district amounts to around 5.6 crore in 120 villages. In Balangir district, the amount involved in the annual migration process is around `100 crore.
As the child migrates with their parents and stays there for minimum six months, it results in disruption of studies and school dropouts.
After returning, it is difficult to get enrolled again and the child is forced to earn his livelihood as a daily wager.
The Government is making tall claims of providing education to all and to enroll the children for which the Sarva Sikshya Abhijan (SSA) has been launched, yet large numbers of children are migrating every year resulting in dropouts.
To take care of the education of the migrant children, the Residential Care Centers (RCC) were opened in 2002 on experimental basis in Balangir district with the participation of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) where the children stayed and pursued their studies.
Buoyed with the success, it was extended to Nuapada and Bargarh districts with active involvements of the CBOs/NGOs and participation of the community. However, after the initial good response from the SSA, it became a mere official formality by opening of the centres too late and keeping non-migrant children there.
Migration cannot be stopped and steps should be taken to streamline the process. Residential Care Centres (RCC) should be opened before November and managed with participation and involvement of the community and function properly to check child migration. It should not be treated as an official centre with the block level resource coordinator and SI, but the community to be involved sincerely.
If the centers are opened by October and with involvement of the community, a migrant parent would believe and leave his/her children there rather than believing in the words of the officials.
Last year, 49 RCC centres were opened in Balangir district and a total of 1,342 students were there.
The centres were opened in February and were managed by the Village Education Committee (VEC), said an SSA official here.
This year we expect to open the RCC centres by the first week of December, the officials informed further.
The Right to Education Act in its clause 5.2 states, “whereas child is required to move from one school to another, either within a State or outside for any reason whatsoever, such childshall have a right to seek transfer to any other school excluding the school specified in sub-clauses (iii) and (iv) of clause of clause Section 2, for completing his or her elementary education”.
“There should be inter-State collaboration between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to provide admission of migrated children in the schools of migrating State”, opined Santosh Padhy.
There should be comprehensive intervention in streamlining the migration process, reducing exploitation and ensuring education for the children through the RCCs. A direct dialogue should be made with the principal employer and the brick kiln owners to avoid exploitation and distress condition through middlemen, opined Saroj Barik of ADHAR.
A comprehensive detailed mapping of the migrant children must be done in the western region so that the exact number of children migrating could be known and intervention be developed, Padhy quipped.