WHEN the Kerala school board declared results for the class X exams a week ago, in the winners’ gallery of some schools were a few happy “outsiders” — children of migrant workers, mostly from the north and northeastern parts of the country, who had come to toil in Kerala along with their families.
While there is no data on how many of the 4,37,156 students who passed the Kerala Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exams are from migrant families, schools say there are several success stories. Once dropouts in their home states, most of these children now study in Malayalam-medium schools.
Kerala is home to an estimated 25 lakh migrants and experts say many of them, encouraged by the nearly universal enrolment in Kerala, enroll their children in schools in the state.
At the Government High School in Binanipuram, Ernakulam district, of the 13 students who appeared and passed the class X exam, four were from Uttar Pradesh. This Malayalam-medium school has 75 students from Bihar, Assam and UP, studying in various classes up to class X.
Rajaram, 17, of Varanasi, who joined the school five years ago, is among those who cleared their class X.
“My father is a daily worker in Kochi. I had dropped out of school in Varanasi after my primary. Later, when my parents moved to Kerala, I resumed studies,’’ says Rajaram, who returned to Varanasi after the exams and will be back next week. But he hasn’t decided whether he will continue his studies or start working to support the family.
Headmistress Mangala Bai says many of the children from migrant families usually join her school in the eighth or ninth standards. “We give them special coaching in Malayalam and other subjects to ensure that they don’t lag behind. For most of these students, school education would have remained a dream if they hadn’t come to Kerala. They tell us that back home, they lived far away from their schools and often, there weren’t enough teachers,’’ she says.
With Ernakulam district the hub of migrant workers in Kerala, children of migrant workers mainly go to in schools in Perumbavoor, Aluva and Kothamangalam areas of Ernakulam district.
At the government-aided Sri Narayana Higher Secondary School at Thrikkannarvattam in Ernakulam, 60 of the total 522 students are from migrant families. Headmistress J Bindu says, “Last year, we had two students from Bihar who scored A-plus grades.”
Akshaya Kumar Naik, who is from Kandhamal district of Odisha, scored 74 per cent this year. His father, Asit Kumar Naik, is a mason and mother a domestic help. Akshaya, who has been studying at a government-aided school in Mookkannor village, Ernakulam, for the last seven years, says in rather fluent Malayalam, “I want to continue studying in Kerala and become a software professional. My three siblings also study in the same school.’’
A senior official in the education department said they had “no exact number” for children from migrant families studying in Kerala schools. “Most of them enrolled their children in upper primary classes in recent years, so the number of such students sitting for the class X exams will go up in the coming years,’’ he said, adding that a major hurdle schools face in enrolling these children is that many of them don’t have birth certificates, which is a mandatory requirement.
According to Dr S Irudaya Rajan, an expert on migration studies, “Kerala should promote the trend of migrant families settling down in the state. With government schools in the state facing closure for want of enough students, children from migrant families could fill that gap to a certain extent.’’
Over 95 per cent students cleared Kerala’s Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) or Class 10 board exam, results of which were declared on May 5.