Photo credit: Chandra Kiran Katta
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the economic situation of the most vulnerable. Thousands of children are forced to work to help their families meet their basic needs. Among them, migrants are the most at risk. On the occasion of International Migrants Day, December 18, Aide et Action is highlighting their rights and fundamental freedoms.
Education is one of the best bulwarks against poverty and forced labor of children, especially migrant children who are at high risk. This is why Aide et Action fights every day to support them and guarantee their right to education, like all other children in the world.
Children still not given enough priority
In India, about 100 million unorganised migrant workers move with their families from rural to urban areas in search of employment and livelihood. Estimates suggest that migrant children constitute about 10-15 million of this total population. The country has a series of progressive laws to protect the rights of children; however, only 48% of Indian children benefit from this support.
A large proportion of those excluded from these basic services are migrant children as they are mobile. Their experience of poverty and vulnerability is multi-dimensional and different from that of adults, and deserves specific attention. Unfortunately, the Indian state considers children under six to be a low priority and that it is primarily up to families to ensure their children's development.
Support and inclusion
" On the construction site, I help my parents make bricks in the sun. I often get sick. I miss school and my friends. I would like to study and become a teacher for migrant children like me. "Sumitra, 13 years old, Balangir region, India. To ensure that Sumitra's case becomes increasingly rare, Aide et Action has been working actively since 2009 to implement the right to education for migrant children.
Our programme, which focuses on children in distress working in brick factories and construction sites, consists of setting up early childhood care centres, where we strive to provide childcare services and basic education. We promote children's cognitive learning and physical growth through the development of appropriate materials and programmes. Over the years, we have been successful in ensuring that migrant children are able to return to school once they are back in their home villages.
More than ever, our mobilisation is essential as the number of children at risk of having to work on construction sites with their parents has doubled since the COVID-19 crisis.