ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Migrant Children and ‘Free’ Education in India

Schooling of migrant children in India is compromised for various reasons, such as their mobility, disadvantaged backgrounds, and exclusionary experiences of schooling. Such contexts and experiences of migrant families and children are in stark contrast to how their aspirations and motivation are dominantly imagined by education functionaries of the state and the non-governmental organisations. Using narratives from the city of Bengaluru, this article throws light on the aforesaid discord, thereby highlighting the complex placement of migrant children with respect to inclusionary frameworks of schooling and education in India.

Muft ka chandan ghis mere Nandan (The sandalwood is free, keep rubbing it), a teacher in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) said to Vanitha, an eight-year-old migrant child, who was packing some extra food for home from the midday meal provision of the NGO school. Vanitha’s family migrated to Bengaluru from Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh about three years ago, although her father had first migrated to the city seven years ago. Her father worked as a driver and mother as a homemaker. Before being enrolled in the NGO school, Vanitha was enrolled in another school in the city run by a charity trust. She had to drop out because the school did not permit her frequent absence necessitated by the mobility of her family back and forth between the village and the city.

Her family did not have money to enrol Vanitha and her two younger siblings in an English medium private school and was doubtful about the usefulness of enrolling them in a Kannada medium government school in Bengaluru. That was when she got enrolled into the bridging programme run by an NGO school in east Bengaluru where the policy is to mainstream children into English medium private schools and provide partial financial support to the parents towards paying the school fees.

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Updated On : 28th Nov, 2021
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