Mumbai: NGO builds makeshift school at construction sites for migrant kids

Updated: Nov 28, 2017, 12:24 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

A developer and an NGO have joined hands and built a makeshift school at a construction site in Mira Road, where labourers' children are educated while their parents are busy working

Not many builders/developers are likely to feature in people's good books. But this one from Mira Road isn't perturbed by that and just wants to further a noble cause. The developer has partnered with an NGO to provide basic education to the children of migrant labourers working at the company's construction site - they have set up a makeshift school on the premises.

Located on JP Infra's construction project site 'JP North' in Mira Road, the school functions from 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays, bringing the children, who might otherwise while away time in mischief or unconstructive activities, under one roof to educate, while their parents, most hailing from Bangladesh, do their job. About 11 million men and women move to cities with their children and live on construction sites; many of them cannot pay attention to their children's pre-primary and primary education, leaving such kids' future bleak.

The makeshift school has three teachers and 22 students. Pics/Falguni Agrawal
The makeshift school has three teachers and 22 students. Pics/Falguni Agrawal

On-site studies
Pratima Sarkar, 35, a teacher at the makeshift school, employed by the NGO Mumbai Mobile Creches, said: "I teach them Hindi, English, and even Bengali, as most of them are from West Bengal, as well as some other basic education. We have 22 students. The NGO trains us teachers, and the developer provides food, raw materials needed for art and craft, and other miscellaneous things." Explaining the importance of having a school on the construction site, she added, "Earlier, these kids used to roam around the streets and be idle throughout the day. But after the school has been opened, they receive proper education, and also gifts on Children's Day. All this instills a sense of joy in them, and motivates them."

According to her, at other construction sites, workers' children usually attend a BMC school, where the teacher-to-student ratio is low, but in most cases, even the children - along with their parents - start working at the construction site. In a majority of these cases, the children end up getting hurt or injured. "Next, we are going to give them uniforms."

Labourers happy
"My husband and I both work at the construction site," said Rita Sarkar, 28, who hails from Kolkata. The couple came to Mumbai five years back with their son Ritik, who is now five. "It's been two months since the school started, and my son has been attending it regularly. Usually, the children are always out playing in the sun while we are working. But now, we know that he is studying. It is a good and safe feeling."

Jovanidevi, 25, also has a five-year-old son; the family, which includes her husband Santosh Nawasi, hails from Jharkhand and came to Mumbai only a month back. "I have never worked before at such a place, where there is a school for the children. We get to spend quality time as a family, and there is a feel-good factor that my son is studying. We cannot afford to send them (kids) to a proper school."

A jolly good fellow
Shubham Jain, managing director of JP Infra Mumbai Pvt Ltd, said, "We believe in 'Right to Education' for all, and this has driven us to start a school for the children of the labourers at our project site in Mira Road. We are confident that we will be able to shape up the initial years of these underprivileged children to make them able and educated youths of tomorrow."


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Going strong
This school, though makeshift, has all the required infrastructure and facilities. Started with just 10 children, it now has 22 students. With three teachers, the school runs Jr KG, Sr KG, and Stds I and II. The teachers are well trained under the guidance of the NGO, Mumbai Mobile Creches. The school teaches Bengali, Hindi and Marathi. Special efforts are also taken to impart education in English. Upon completion of the course, these children will be sent to a nearby civic school for further studies.

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