Opening Educational Pathways for Migrant Children (OEPMC)
In India, the construction industry is the biggest employer of migrant workers: 35 million people work roam from place to place in search for work. Due to their nomadic lifestyle and to the fact that their children often do not speak the local language, school enrolment is almost impossible. As a consequence, the children of construction workers live precariously within the construction site where their parents are employed, have no access to formal education, play with debris and dangerous construction material, contract diseases, and often begin working at a young age.
Our Day Care Centres offer protection and opportunities for education to these children (aged 0 to 16) right at the construction sites where they live. The Centres act as a bridge to traditional education, and promote healthy childhood experiences as well as their parents’ participation in their children’s education. In keeping with our conviction that all children should be school-going, we strive to mainstream school-age children into regular school.
The Day Care Centres are also a platform from which we work towards strengthening the legal and political framework to protect and uplift this specific population towards dignified living conditions.
The Project started in late 2011 with around 55 children in only one Centre. By 2016, there are 15 Centres reaching out to about 480 children. Our goal to keep on opening more Centres thereby catering to more beneficiaries, necessarily implies the involvement and support of the building & construction companies.
The objectives of the Project are to
- Provide non-formal education for young children and academic support for school-going children
- Improve the children’s health and nutrition
- Act as a springboard to traditional schools
- Offer a safe space for playing and learning
- Raise parents’ awareness about the importance of education and health
- Raise the builders’ awareness about their workers’ living conditions.
Testimony of a couple working at a construction site
Kamla: “Now I am working here but before I worked in another place farther away. At the other site nobody took care of my son when I was working. I start working at 9 every morning grinding gravel and carrying it where I’m told. I can’t get distracted. My child likes to be in the Center. We know that as long as he’s here, he’s protected.”
Kirstantal: “What’s more, he’s learning things – something new every day. That’s much better than to see him wandering around aimlessly. Hanging around the construction site is very dangerous and we can’t take care of him while we work”.