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Distress Seasonal Migration and its Impact on Children’s Education

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posted on 2023-06-07, 14:46 authored by Smita Smita
There are still many categories of children in India for whom adequate and appropriate strategies are not in place for their effective education. One such substantive category is children of seasonal migrants – a group which has not been on the radar screen of the government or development agencies. Distress seasonal migration is a growing phenomenon in almost all arid parts of India. Drought and lack of work in villages forces entire families to migrate for several months every year in search of work merely to survive. Children accompany their parents, and as a result drop-out rates go up. Migrants comprise the most vulnerable sections of society, and especially those that also belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe groups. There is no official data available on the scale of distress seasonal migration, but estimates put the numbers of migrants between 1 and 3 crore (10 to 30 million). The number of children involved in these migrations may range between 40 and 60 lakhs (4 to 6 million). Migration takes place to a range of industrial and agro-industrial sectors such as brick manufacture, salt making, sugar cane harvesting, stone quarrying, construction, plantations and fishing. This paper identifies major sectors and geographies with a high incidence of seasonal migration, and gives broad estimates of the numbers involved, especially the number of children between 0-14 years. It also outlines the nature and patterns of seasonal migration in different sectors, and how these annual migration cycles overlap with the annual school calendar. The discussion focuses on the difficulties that children face with schooling both in villages and at migration sites, and the conditions under which children drop out of schools, as well as the response or lack of response of local school systems to the education of migrant children in some areas. The paper also outlines the efforts made so far by government and NGOs to address these problems through alternative schooling, and provides recommendations for state and central governments in terms of policy and program interventions.


Publication status

  • Published


Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE)



Place of publication

Falmer, UK

Department affiliated with

  • Education Publications


Pathways to Access, Research Monograph No 28


National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA)

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


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