English Literacy Project to teach 3000 Children of Migrant labourers

English Literacy Project
The English Literacy Project is an initiative that aims to provide much-needed support and fluency in English, to the children of one of the country’s most marginalised communities – India’s migrant labourers. India is a country that, despite its economic progress, is still struggling to provide its huge underprivileged population with bare living necessities. Education, more so in English, is a necessary tool to help break the vicious cycle of poverty and pull families into the comfort of self-sufficiency. While the government is doing its best to provide free or subsidizing schooling for those who cannot afford it, there is still this enormously overlooked community who fail to access such initiatives.

The backbone of the construction industry, migrant labourers continue to remain vulnerable. Due to the constantly shifting nature of their employment, they remain perpetually rootless, living a hand-to-mouth existence with a lack of paperwork and records, disqualifying them from availing beneficial government schemes. Their children will be condemned to follow in the footsteps of their parents without urgent intervention.

The English Literacy Project has recognised this dilemma and identified NGOs who have been working to spread awareness about the importance of education amongst migrant workers, helping them with primary learning outside of a formal school set-up.

The English Literacy Project is a focus group set up by non-resident Indian students along with students in India with an aim to:

• Identify existing low-cost English language electronic resources
• Adapt existing resources to design a curriculum that is easy to implement
• Design a solution that can reduce reliance on trained teachers
• Provide a curriculum that is constantly upgraded by students with the help of teachers at UWCSEA.
• Make the low-cost, easily accessible English Language curriculum available to organisations working with migrant children worldwide

To meet these targets, they have already identified and reached out to organisations such as The Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT) for their video-based curriculum – that does not need internet connectivity, matches the Maharashtra state curriculum, involves zero cost and minimal teacher intervention. To make it even easier to implement and reuse, they adapted the videos and supplemented them with laminated worksheets. This group of 12 students along with support from students in India has, over the past two years, worked to adapt 200 videos and created over 100 support materials for the students. This programme is now ready to be implemented from the coming academic year at centres across Mumbai, where 3,000 migrant children will be the first to benefit.

Talking about the motivation of the India English Literacy Project, Arushi Mishr, leader of the project and a student at UWC Singapore stated, “Our research found that educational effort by NGOs that have access to good resources led to an average increase in income of around 126%. A successful partnership between the government and NGOs could pull 17% of India’s migrant population, i.e., 2.55 million people out of the poverty cycle.”

Looking to the future, the group has written to the Prime Minister’s Office about their findings, and with a hope to extend their free learning programme to other underprivileged children in India. They were delighted to promptly hear back from the PMO who has forwarded their request to the education department for consideration.

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