Children of migrant labourers in Odisha face an uncertain future -Satyasundar Barik

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published Published on Feb 28, 2021   modified Modified on Feb 28, 2021

-The Hindu

COVID-19 forced many to discontinue studies and join their labouring parents.

BHUBANESWAR: Unlike his three siblings, Arjun Naik, 11, had never stayed in a dingy room near a brick kiln along with his parents. All these years, he was a student at a residential school run by the Odisha government. His classmate, Somu Naik, was put up in such accommodation for months. It was not a pleasant experience.

Almost a year after the onset of COVID-19, schoolgoing children of migrating parents, including Arjun and Somu, are either on the verge of discontinuing their studies or preparing to labour as adolescent workers.

“My elder daughter, who is 14 years old, has already started helping me in brick making. As we keep moving from one place to another, my eldest son’s studies have been hampered. We wanted Arjun to be devoted to his studies but COVID-19 shattered our hopes. The hostel has remained closed for a year. We cannot leave our son anywhere else,” said Basila Naik, Arjun’s father, who works at a brick kiln in Bingharpur on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

In a nearby brick kiln, little Nandita, 11, is happy that she can join a residential school from the next academic session at Kukudakhandi in Ganjam district.

However, as uncertainty prevails over the opening of residential schools due to the pandemic, her stay at the brick kiln has been prolonged. Instead of studying, she looks after her younger siblings while her mother works at the kiln.

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The Hindu, 28 February, 2021,

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