LOCKED HOMES, EMPTY SCHOOLS, The impact of distress seasonal migration on the rural poor, By Smita

Book Review

LOCKED HOMES, EMPTY SCHOOLS, The impact of distress seasonal migration on the rural poor, By Smita

The book covers a largely ignored category of children of seasonal migrant labourers whose life is essentially rootless. Considered as outsiders both at home and worksite nobody wants to take responsibility for their education and they end up being illegal child labourers. The nice thing about the book is that in highlighting the problem it also presents case studies on several NGOs in four different states which have come up with workable models for the education of these children. In the form of seasonal hostels in villages of origin, schools/centers at worksites, bridge courses in home villages and strengthening local government schools the book identifies solutions which can become further basis for any intervention by the government or any other NGO wanting to address the problem of this category of children.

Vijaya Ramachandran, daughter of former President R. Venkataraman, has been silently working with immense patience in Kanpur for the last 30 years to run an education programme for children of Bilaspuri and other construction as well as brick kiln workers. With twenty centers and a hostel for 9 children in the city, she finds the problem intractable. Her appeal to the education department officials incharge of SSA to initiate centers at the remaining 300 or so brick kilns and construction sites in and around Kanpur simply falls on deaf ears.

The author of the book deserves rich compliments for presenting such a complicated problem in a very lucid way accompanied by lively pictures.

Dr Sandeep Pandey

(About the author: Dr Pandey was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award for emergent leadership (2002), did his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, U.C., Berkeley, 1992 before heading back to India to become a social activist. Took out a 1500 km Global Peace March for nuclear disarmament from the Indian nuclear testing site Pokaran to Sarnath, a place where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, beginning 11th May and ending on 6th August, 1999. Presently with Program on Science & Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University for 5 weeks. He can be contacted at: