How a Kerala dist helped migrant workers’ kids excel in school

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Pradeep Mohite, a migrant worker from Maharashtra, beams with pride as he talks about his son’s class 10 results released last week. Shivraj Mohite studies in a Malayalam-medium school in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, and scored A+ in all his subjects.

Shivraj, a student of St George’s High School, Vennikkulam, is among several children of migrant workers in Kerala who had been part of Ernakulam district’s ROSHNI scheme, aimed at helping them overcome the language barrier and learn Malayalam, English, and Hindi.

All 85 of the students, who came through the ROSHNI system and gave the class 10 Kerala state board exam this year, passed with flying colours. Two of them have scored A+ in all subjects. As many as 43 of them have scored an A or A+ in Malayalam.

Pradeep, who works as a salesman in a textile shop at Tripunithura near Kochi, settled in Kerala two decades ago from Sohali village in Maharashtra’s Sangli district. Later, after he got married, he brought his wife Archana also to Kerala. Apart from Shivraj, the couple have an elder daughter, Komal, who is a class 12 student.

“Over the years, we have been staying at a small rented house – two-rooms and a kitchen – paying Rs 5,000 a month as rent. My salary is only Rs 12,000. My struggle in Kerala is to ensure quality education for my children,” Pradeep said.

Festive offer

“We will not get such quality education free of cost in our state. I come from a family of farmers. I was not lucky enough to attend school, but wanted to ensure that my children get a good education,” he said.

Sushmita Raj, daughter of a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh, also secured A+ in all her class 10 subjects.

“Only a few girls in my village of Baraini (in UP’s Mirzapur district) pursue education after class 10 and class 12. But in Kerala, you cannot sit idle after completing class 10. Here, every girl is continuing her education… When everyone goes for higher education, one cannot sit at home. The atmosphere is inspiring for girls,” Sushmita, who wants to be a doctor, said.

A student of Government High School at Binanipuram in Ernakulam, she is the daughter of headload worker Raj Kumar and Saritha, a daily-wage labourer at a flour mill.

While Raj Kumar is a school dropout and Saritha is illiterate, their children’s education has flourished in Kerala.

The couple’s eldest daughter is now an engineering student, and of their two sons, one is in class 12 and the other in high school.

Raj Kumar says his children are his only asset. “I do not have a single paisa in the bank. My only asset is my children. In my brothers’ families in UP, no single girl is studying after school, but I have learnt a lot from Kerala. Now, after getting to know that my daughter has secured good results in class 10, everyone in the village congratulated her,” he said.

When the result came, the son of another migrant worker in Kerala, Mudasir, who studied at Government High School Elamakkara, said he was at his village of Parsawan in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district. He scored 80 per cent in his class 10, equivalent to an A. Since then, he says, he has become a “hero” at the village.

His father Mohammed Ayoob works at a meat shop and mother Hajira is a homemaker.

The couple have two other children, both daughters, have completed their class 10 in Kerala and are doing higher studies.

Hundreds of children from migrant families go to school in Kerala, and this has come as a lifeline for many schools where enrollment had been going down as the state’s school-going population has reduced over the years.

In some primary schools in Ernakulam, which has the largest presence of migrant workers, the majority of students are from migrant families.

In 2017, the Education Department joined hands with the Ernakulam district administration to launch the ROSHNI scheme to stop these students from dropping out.

The scheme was aimed at improving the social participation and educational performance of migrant children.

Initially launched on a pilot basis in four schools in Ernakulam, ROSHNI was extended to 40 government and aided schools in the district over the years. At present, 2,400 students from class one to seven are part of the project.

C K Prakas, coordinator of ROSHNI, said, “Due to the communication gap, most migrant students were dropping out (before the ROSHNI scheme). In a Malayalam medium classroom, they found schooling difficult. ROSHNI scheme was launched to address this issue by making them proficient in Malayalam, English, and Hindi. They were provided breakfast at schools, where special morning classes were held to help them learn Malayalam. It covered students from class one to seven, but we continued to monitor them till class 10.”

He said that in the last three years, migrant students who came through the ROSHNI project excelled in their class 10 exam. “While most migrant families returned during pandemic days, these families stayed back due to the schooling,” he said.



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