Paternal migration, child labour and education: a study in brickfield areas of West Bengal
Children accompanying their migrant parents for seasonal employment are the most “at risk” group of all in terms of educational vulnerability and capability formation. They are deprived of basic education and therefore become bonded to the low-skill–low-wage trap that their parents are currently in. Proper understanding of the magnitude and severity of the problem and suggesting innovative policies for breaking this vicious cycle is of utmost importance. Using findings from a Field Survey in Brick Kilns of Bardhaman district of West Bengal, this paper attempts to explore issues related to parental migration and condition of the children. The socio-economic condition of the migrant workers and their children in the kilns, the problems faced by these migrant children in accessing educational facilities, and the incidence of child labour have been explored. Effectiveness of policies taken by Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan in ensuring education of these migrant children has also been examined. Children are observed to be growing up as replica of their parents and are inducted into the same low-skill profession from an early age. Contrary to neo-classical argument that labour migration in response to market forces will lead to equalisation of factor prices, no such trends are visible. Intervention programmes like mobile & residential schools are necessary to ensure not only basic learning of the children but also to teach them basic hygiene and livelihood techniques. Skill-formation among the children is urgent so that when they grow up they really have the freedom to choose their livelihood.
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