From Construction Rubble to Classrooms

Running around in the rubble of construction work, laden with patches of sand on their faces, arms, and legs – these are the children of migrant construction workers who settle in the fringes of villages, help their parents all day long, but don’t go to school. Over the years, since the crackdown of the Right to Education Act and initiatives like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we have achieved significant success in bringing children back to schools. The omen still exists and while every stakeholder plays an important part in convincing parents to send their children to school, it’s really the teachers who work to ensure their attendance in schools every day. 

From enrolment drives to helping conduct surveys to identify children out of school – our teachers have time and again showed us that relentlessness is key ensuring every child is in school, studying, learning, and growing. “Parents who haven’t been to school would not be aware of the importance of education and so, do not send their children to school either. In this case, it is our responsibility to speak to the parents and make them aware that there is nothing more important than education for their children,“ said Mr. Ramesh B, Head Teacher, Government Higher Primary School, Heelalige, Chandapura.

A few months ago, the Department of Public Instruction, Government of Karnataka issued a circular for all administrative heads in the educational blocks to conduct an Out of School Children (OOSC) Survey post 8:00 PM across villages in the block. It was only at night that we would find parents at the hutments and make sure there were conversations with them about the need to send their children to school. 

“We visited the nearby slum, along with members of Team Mantra, where we identified children who never went to school, that they were migrants and because they didn’t know the language they were not being sent to school. We spoke to the parents about why they need to send their wards to school and also noted down their contact details for follow up, if required,“ Ms. Sarojamma, Teacher at Government Higher Primary School, Devangapete.

The teachers also asked students of the school if there were any children in their neighborhood. If the students informed, the teachers would go the same day post schools to meet the children and their parents. The reasons for parents not to send their children to school we varied, and perhaps even justified – distance, medium of instruction at school, the economic status of the family, both the parents had to work, the child was the eldest in the house and had to take care of the younger siblings in the absence of the parents.

“It is our responsibility to get these children back to school, it’s their right and we as teachers should make sure that they exercise their right to education,” said Ms. Manjula H G, Head Teacher, Government Higher Primary School, Dommasandra, a teacher who has helped the school increase its student strength from 153 to 185 in her tenure. Our teachers conduct one OOSC survey every month to bring children back to school. 

The slightest slip in routine can hamper their efforts of ensuring that children attend school every day. To make sure that distance is never an issue, teachers reach out to their colleagues in nearby schools; some even make sure to pick the children up on their way to school, while others converse with children in Hindi while slowly teaching them Kannada and English. 

We celebrate teachers every year on September 5th. Often, we remember the greatest of contributions they make to the education of every child. Mantra is extremely proud and privileged to work with teachers who are not only passionate about teaching but go the extra mile to ensure every child receives quality education. 

Contributed by Team Communications, Mantra4Change

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