Hyderabad: The Rachakonda police’s brick kiln worksite schools initiative for the children of Odisha migrant labourers not only garnered applause in the State and the country alike but also has now been cited in the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report-2019, which was recently published.
The report was published in June by the State Department, a federal executive department that is equivalent to the Foreign Ministry of other countries, which advises the US President on foreign policy and maintains international relations.
In the exclusive report, it is cited that the Telangana government, in collaboration with the Odisha government officials and Non-Governmental Organisations, opened eight Odia language schools that educated about 870 former victims of child labour and children of migrant workers. The report further said the district governments provided stipends to volunteer teachers, meals and other material too.
Speaking about the recognition, Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat said, “I am happy that our work for the last three years in starting the worksite schools for Odisha children is globally recognised. It will help us to strive harder in future to continue the work in coordination with other stakeholders such as District Collectors and civil society organisations”.
Katherine Hadda, US Consul General in Hyderabad, too tweeted ‘Congrats to @RachakondaCop! His work with state govts and others to set up schools in Hyderabad and keep migrant kids from working in brick kilns was positively cited in the @StateDept 2019 Trafficking in Person’s report’.
Every year, thousands of daily wage workers migrate to Telangana from Odisha to work in brick kilns here. Their children are forced to stay away from school or any form of education for several months at a stretch.
Three years ago, the Rachakonda police, along with the Rangareddy district administration and the brick kiln owners association, collaborated with Aide et Action, an international NGO, to provide education to migrant labourers’ children.
Since the beginning of this year, some 389 migrant children have been enrolled in various government schools in Rangareddy district. In the last one year, as part of Operation Smile, over 350 children were rescued from child labour and enrolled in government schools with the help of Aide et Action. They are being taught by teachers specially trained in Odia language.
The initiative is a collective effort of the Rachakonda Police Commissionerate, District Collectors of Yadadri-Bhongir and Rangareddy, the Brick Kiln Owners Association in Telangana and Aide et Action.
Once these children are rescued, they are either sent back to their villages or reunited with their families. Since some of them were already living with their parents in small huts at the brick kiln worksite, officials began looking for an alternative to rehabilitate them.