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02 Mar 2024, Edition - 3154, Saturday

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Coimbatore : Slum-free district succeeds, but distances kids from schools

Vidyashree Dharmaraj


In a bid to ensure a slum-free district and also provide decent living space to those living in such spaces, the Tamil Nadu Slum Development Board relocated several families to the tenements constructed in various places. But the Child Labour Department has noted that children from these relocated families are not pursuing schooling for various reasons.

Several families from Ukkadam, Variety Hall Road and even those who had encroached water bodies and lakes were moved to tenements constructed by the TNSDB. While the intention of the government was to provide better living facilities, the families have always been reluctant to move for various reasons. Some also expressed difficulty in commuting to their workplace from their new dwelling, citing lack of bus facilities as a main reason.

Now, the sight of children wandering around aimlessly and not going to school has turned out to be a cause of concern. The board tenements at Vellalore are now partially occupied. Several children are seen wandering around without going to school.

“Even the adults seem to take a lot of time adjusting to the new dwelling place. Most do not return to work immediately and some do not return to their previous work at all. There are several factors that play a role, especially the distance and mode of transportation to reach their previous place of work or previous school. In the case of Vellalore, the school in the area is about 3 km away and the headmaster of the school has taken efforts to engage three autorickshaws to bring the children to the school,” said an official in the Child Labour Department, though wishing to stay anonymous.

It is important to ensure that schools are close-by and if not , there are modes to get children to school and bring them back. The mid-day meals scheme has been largely successful in enrolling children and also ensuring that they do not drop out. Study materials are being provided by the education department for all children which results in parents not having to spend a single paise for children up to Grade VIII.

It is important for the authorities of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan to ensure that these children go to school so that they are not compelled to work by their parents. Officials have also observed that several parents lack interest in sending their children to school. There had to be a solution lest students should turn to become child labourers.

Volunteers were being sent out with questionnaires so that factors hindering children from going to schools could be ascertained and remedies made, the official added.

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