In a major move to retain children of the migrants in schools, the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) for the first time will open seasonal hostels in three districts. The move is aimed at minimising the dropout rate of children when their parents migrate for work.
In an ambitious programme under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the OPEPA is planning to accommodate around 5,389 children of migrant parents in seasonal hostels which will come up at Balangir, Bargarh and Nuapada districts.
This programme is being launched keeping in view the migration period in these districts.
“The migration period usually starts between October and November. We hope to retain those children who miss out on their schooling because they have to migrate with their parents. Our district project coordinators (DPCs) had started working on gathering information about the migrant families around nine months back,” OPEPA State Project Director Krushan Gopal Mohapatra said.
Depending on the duration for which the families migrate, the project has been divided into two groups. Around 2,562 children of the migrant families will be accommodated in the seasonal hostels for a period of six months. For every child, ` 10,000 will be spent on accommodation and food for a period of six months.
In the second group, around 2,827 children will be accommodated in these hostels for a period of nine months and `15,000 will be spent on each child’s accommodation and food. The programme depends on the intensity of the migration in these districts.
Funds for the project, estimated at `6.8 crore, was sanctioned by the Centre under the Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWPB) 2012-13 of OPEPA.
“There can be two types of intervention __ one at the source level and another at the destination level of the migration. At the source level, we are trying to ensure that a child has a shelter to stay and attend school after his/her parents move to nearby regions to earn a living,” Mohapatra said.
For this purpose, alternative accommodation will be provided for the children of the migrant families.
There is a provision to accommodate the children either inside the school premises or hire private accommodation for the purpose. No new infrastructure will be constructed.
The DPCs in the three districts will be responsible for overseeing the project. “The final number of children eventually staying in these hostels will vary as it may be difficult to convince the parents to leave their children at the hostels. But the groundwork has started,” Mohapatra said.
The children, already enrolled in the schools in these three districts, between classes III and VIII, will benefit from the programme.
Prior to this, the State Government had launched a similar concept where Regional Care Centre (RCC) was opened in Balangir in 2010 where children were given shelter when their parents migrated. The success of the programme prompted a few other States to take up the project and implement it.