A survey has identified 1,132 children in the age-group of 6 to 14 from eight districts as victims of seasonal migration who ended up working under woeful conditions in brick kilns outside Jharkhand.
The study, conducted by city-based NGO Association for Social and Human Awareness (ASHA) and Tomorrow’s Foundation, Calcutta, covered 50 villages in Gumla, Lohardaga, Latehar, Ranchi, Khunti, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan.
A glaring fact that emerged was that the state primary education department, which carried out an appraisal of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan in February-March, failed to keep track of the names of those among the migrant workers who dropped out of school.
Addressing mediapersons at the Social Development Centre on Tuesday, secretary of ASHA Ajay Kumar said the state had been unable to identify children who migrated to big cities, usually along with their parents.
“It’s really pathetic to mention that these children, many of who are enrolled in schools, are forced to leave midway by their parents and migrate to other states,” he added.
Kumar alleged that the state government had done little to stem the menace.
“We have urged the government to set up seasonal migration hostels so that children are not forced to leave but stay back in the shelters and complete their education free of cost.”
The NGOs are planning to submit a proposal to the government seeking hostels with a capacity to accommodate 60 each and spend Rs 30 on every child per day.
According to a rough estimate, nearly 60,000 children could be prevented from migrating to other states if the government took such an initiative, they added.
Ritwik Patra, chief operating officer of Tomorrow’s Foundation, said Jharkhand was among the worst hit states in terms of seasonal migration of children.
“We have opened three hostels in Ranchi, Khunti and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts, where children are pursuing studies without any disturbance,” he said.
Patra pointed out that the highest number of children migrated from Seraikela-Kharsawan and West Singhbhum.
“They return home in the month of June and by October, they start migrating again. It’s high time that we prepare an action plan by identifying children who will be returning in June, so that they can be linked with various schools,” Patra said.
He further suggested that by September all such children should be lodged in seasonal migration hostels.
“The hostels could be village community halls, panchayat bhawans or schools, which are not functional and are lying vacant,” he pointed out.
The organisations have decided to conduct a similar survey to spot children who will be returning to Jharkhand in June.
Officials of Aid Foundation Bharati, based in the Netherlands, also attended the news meet on Tuesday.