Education of Migrant Construction Workers in Bangalore: Issues and Concerns

Education plays a critical role in holistic development – the mental, physical and the emotional development of the children. The Sustainable development goal 4 calls for ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. There are various policies and programmes implemented by the central as well as the state government in India to promote the school education. Some of them include establishment of National Education Framework, enactment of Right to Education Act 2009 with the mandate of providing free textbooks, uniforms and mid-day meals to all government school children, Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan etc. Despite of these initiatives, there are numerous challenges, including lack of equal access to education which is predominantly evident in rural and under-privileged communities such as migrant construction workers. 

Bangalore, being the IT capital of the country witnessing a huge migration of construction workers from all over the country to meet the enormous demand for construction activities of the city. Most of these workers are from Orissa, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkand and northern districts of the state. The Intra-state workers usually migrate to the city due to drought or floods which have affected the traditional agriculture-based livelihoods. These workers live in small shelters near the construction site or in slums or on railway lands etc. Most of the children of these migrant construction workers do not have access to education facilities despite the provision of Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996 and Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979. 

The children of registered construction workers are eligible for educational and scholarship benefits under the Construction Worker’s Welfare Board (CWWB). However, majority of the construction workers are not aware of the existence of the Board and the many welfare benefits provided under. In addition, majority of them do not register and posses’ identity card issued by the Board to make them eligibility to receive these benefits. Another major issue is the nature of their job which keep on moving from one construction site to another. This makes it difficult to the children to remain in one school till they complete their study or to be regular to school. Also, the timings of Anganwadi centres are not conducive for the parents where both are working as construction workers. It is common that they take their children to construction site where, the children are vulnerable to respiratory disorders with exposure to dust etc.  

In conclusion, despite there are various initiatives undertaken by the state and the central government, access to education is still a long way to achieve in terms of equal access to quality education for the migrant workers children. To address these issues, it is necessary to create awareness among the construction workers regarding the provision of certain facilities and it is important that the government should take appropriate actions to bring the construction workers in the mainstream of policy making and its effective implementation. 

Author Name
Latha N
Author Designation
Research Associate, CESS