nterstate migration rates in India doubled during 2001­-11

India is home to some of the world’s largest internal population movements, alongside China, and during 2001 to 2011, interstate migration rates doubled in the country, according to the 2019 Global Education Monitoring report by UNESCO.

In the period between 2001 and 2011, interstate migration rates doubled in India. Also, an estimated nine million people migrated between states annually from 2011 to 2016. But many people are also moving for seasonal work. In 2013, 10.7 million children aged between 6 and 14 lived in rural households with a family member who was a seasonal worker. This is particularly common within the construction industry: a survey of 3,000 brick kiln workers in Punjab found that 60% of kiln workers were interstate migrants.

The report, however, indicates that 8% of migrant children across seven Indian cities did not have access to education near worksites. Among young people aged 15 to 19, who have grown up in a rural household with a seasonal migrant, 28% were identified as illiterate or had an incomplete primary education. The report also says up to 40% children from seasonal migrant households are likely to end up in work, rather than school, “facing exploitation and abuse”.

The report, however, also acknowledges that India has taken steps to respond to the migrants’ education needs. The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children. According to the report, while several states have taken initiatives focused on migrant children, not all were a success.

A pilot programme in brick kiln sites from 2010-2011 in Rajasthan to track the progress of out-of-school children did not improve learning in any substantial way, the report claimed. Teachers on the sites cited differences related to culture, language, lifestyle, cleanliness and clothing as major barriers between them and the labour community, it said.

Another major challenge presented by large-scale internal migration is the growth of slums and informal settlements, where schools are often scarce.

Globally, the report estimates that there will be an additional 80 million children living in slums by 2030. In Mumbai, between 100 and 300 families were arriving to look for work every day, it added.

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