Most children living in slums drop out of school, do odd jobs

BBMP Bengaluru Children City Education Slums Women

Girls found to study only up to class 3

Children in various slums of Bengaluru attend school but only a few make it to higher education. The Observer noted that most schools near slums impart education only till grade seven.

Children, especially girls, find it difficult to continue their education after grade seven.

Laxmibai, 24, a slum-dweller in Pantarapalya, Nayandahalli, informed The Observer: “I attended school till class seven in nearby Prathamika Shale as the school only had grades till seven. I wanted to pursue higher education in a school in Rajarajeshwari Nagar but at that time the area was a jungle and I did not feel safe.”

Kaala Bai, 22, another slum- dweller, said she stopped going to school after grade three as she lost her interest in studies. Kaala, married when she was 18, and now has a three-year-old son.

Laxmi and Kaala said politicians knock their doors during elections or only if they require any sweepers.

Both are Marathi-speaking migrants. In their caste, sweeping and picking garbage is considered a disgraceful job.

Kamakshamma T, the leader of BR Ambedkar Sewa Sangh, Pantarapalya, said that out of 3,000 slum children in Pantarapalya, 1,000 attend school, but only few continue their studies to pursue professions like law, medicine and teaching. Nobody pursues engineering.

Youngsters aged between 17 to 21 work as pourakarmikas or contract labourers. Kamakshamma added that 60 per cent of children drop out due to bad influences. “These children are more interested in playing marbles than attending school.”

Meghana B.V., who calls herself a social welfare expert at the Karnataka Slum Development Board, said the government has constructed many community centres in Bengaluru and all children in slums attend school.

 “As mentioned in the Basic Service to Urban Poor (BSUP) provision, the government has constructed thousands of buildings for slum dwellers due to which their lifestyle has become better. The government has also provided free education and anganwadis,” she added.

China Sheikh, a slum-dweller in Thubarahalli, Whitefield, said both her children go to college under a scholarship provided by a trust called Samruddhi. But it is very rare to see other slum children going to school.

China’s son Aladdin said that of the 150 children in the slum, only 25 go to school. Most slum-dwellers are Bengali migrants who find it difficult to study in the Kannada and English mediums, and drop out.

 “A nearby school called Diya Ghar only imparts education till grade five. Hence, parents do not consider it crucial to send their children to school.

I attended school till grade 10. After tenth, I left school as my family was going through a financial crunch, and the lockdown worsened the condition as the school hiked its fee,” said Arif Sheikh, 18, who tried hard to earn a scholarship.

The Observer found that girls aged between 10 and 14 only attend school till grade three. Most of them do household chores and even babysit their younger siblings.

Noora Nisa, a slum-dweller in Hombegowda Nagar, said none of her ten children pursued higher education. One of her daughters has become a drug addict.

 “MLAs do not come to spread any awareness about education. If we try to talk to them about the increasing bad influences in the slum, they do not listen.”

K. Srinivas, BBMP pourakarmika supervisor at Pantarapalya, said: “Because most of the parents go to work, children are not taken care of and due to this most slum children drop out of schools.”

The Observer found that the dropouts become construction labourers and garbage collectors.  A few work in local shops.

Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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