Migrations during droughts are hindering children’s basic education

Prajakta Joshi
Wednesday, 9 January 2019

“At least 15 to 20 per cent of the students in my school are those of migrant labourers who work on the fields in the village. Whenever we have a drought-like situation, with no farming, these children need to go away with their parents, for at least four to six months,” said Dattatray Bhoyar of Matoshri Chandrabhagabai Chinnama Vidyalay in Akoli, a small village in Umarkhed taluka, Yavatmal district.

Pune: The severe drought scenario in the State has forced families and communities especially from the rural belt to migrate to urban areas in search of new employment opportunities. This has adversely impacted the younger lot who too have to leave their schools and friends behind while moving away with their parents.

“At least 15 to 20 per cent of the students in my school are those of migrant labourers who work on the fields in the village. Whenever we have a drought-like situation, with no farming, these children need to go away with their parents, for at least four to six months,” said Dattatray Bhoyar of Matoshri Chandrabhagabai Chinnama Vidyalay in Akoli, a small village in Umarkhed taluka, Yavatmal district.
 
“While the students usually do come back to their schools after they are back, in every drought, losing four to six months of education does affect their educational progress,” he said.

An official from Talathi’s office, on the condition of anonymity, said that while some amount of migration takes place in the rural belt every year, it increases quite a lot when the rainfall is less, due to which tracking the number of students is difficult.

“Some villages where Vasti Shala (community schools) are run by the government, students can reside and continue their education despite their migration of their parents. However, the number of these schools is quite low and Akoli does not have one. One of the other areas where members of Banjara community resided for a longer period of the year had a highly functional Vasti school where the children stayed.
This model needs to be implemented everywhere,” the official added.It should be pointed out here that around a year and a half ago, the government had proposed to shut around 1,300 schools across the State, out of which many were Vasti schools.

The drought also affects the students in the State’s tribal belt. Tribal students are supposed to go to Ashram schools. If a large number of these students had actually gone to these schools and had their quality been maintained, tribal students would not really be affected by the migration on a large scale. However, from Class I to X itself, the drop-out rate of students at Ashram schools is around 48 per cent, and till Class XII, it is 58 per cent. In this situation, you can see that the rest of the students who go to normal schools, have no choice but to migrate with their parents,” activist Ravi Talpe said.

While many teachers on their own are taking measures to help the children who come back to schools after migration season to catch up with the studies, the need for the government to do more is certainly echoed in their voices.

“In our school, we take special classes to push these children to learn all that they have missed. As the no-detention policy is in place, we never failed them till Class VIII which helped them and we have had students who have also completed SSC despite being forced to migrate for a few months. However, we have observed that the girl students are affected as often, they do not come back to schools once they have left,”Bhoyar said.

The State government has declared 151 talukas in 26 districts as drought-hit this year.

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