HRD Ministry Directs Government Schools to Admit Migrant Children Without Documentary Formalities
The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has issued an advisory to states and union territories across the country to admit children of migrant workers without any documentary formalities, as they prepare for schools’ reopening, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Ministry said that while some states may notice a reduction in numbers of children enrolled in their schools, others will see a rise in admissions to accommodate families that have returned home since the lockdown. Per the document, state governments have been asked to admit children without asking for any documents such as transfer certificates or proof of class attended earlier. Any form of proof of identity such as an Aadhar card — possessed by 95% of India’s population, including migrants — should suffice, they said. In addition, all children who have returned to their native villages and towns must be provided with mid-day meals, the ministry added.
In states that have seen a reverse migration, government schools have been asked to prepare a database of children who are absent or have left the local area for their native states.
“While all care must be taken to ensure that their names are not struck off the rolls, their numbers may be reported class-wise to Directorate of Education to compensate for any input costs to be incurred by the school such as mid-day meals, distribution of textbooks and uniforms etc,” the HRD ministry said.
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As of today, per a rapid needs assessment survey carried out by an NGO, Save The Children, children in 62% of households from 15 states in India, have had to discontinue their education largely on account of migration and lack of support from the school or the education department. On a nationwide level, a UNICEF report had revealed that the pandemic and the lockdown has impacted at least 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary education.
One livelihood impact of school closures or being withdrawn from them is an exponential growth in terms of child labor. “We will see trafficking growing for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation,” said Anindit Roy Chowdhury, director of programs and policy impact, Save the Children (India).
While temporary school closures due to health and other crises are not new, the HRD Ministry’s move is possibly a step in the right direction that will help us keep up with the progress we have made in eliminating and reducing child labor. But most importantly, it will assure continuity of learning, especially for disadvantaged children like the migrants’ who tend to be one of the most affected, lack access to resources needed for e-learning, and are in need of help from the government the most given the current situation.