A study on access to education by children of migrant workers


This 2020 report summarises the findings of a study conducted by the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation. Using both primary and secondary data, the study aimed to examine the education access available to children of migrant workers in their hometowns and destination cities. It also looks at the various obstacles children face that result in lack of access to education.

The study was conducted based on primary data collected from 54 households covering 129 children aged 14 years or younger. The migrant respondents were interviewed in Delhi NCR and Bhopal. The hometowns of the respondents were from regions in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

A considerable percentage of the children of migrant workers do not have access to education either in their home regions or in the cities they have migrated to, the study finds. It also highlights the dire need for educational institutions in both source and destination areas.

The 48-page report is divided into four sections: Introduction (Section 1); Profile of the Study Population (Section 2); Findings & Discussion (Section 3); and Summary of Findings and Recommendations (Section 4).


  1. According to the study, about 40 per cent of children of migrant workers were absent from schools. This included children who moved with their parents to cities and those who stayed in their native villages. The study found more boys out of school (47 per cent) than girls (35 per cent).

  2. About 75 per cent of the children who stayed back in their native villages attended school compared to 55 per cent who migrated to cities with their parents, the study recorded.

  3. The cities and states where labourers migrate are deficient in infrastructure necessary to provide education to migrant children. This continues the deprivation of education in migrant families and contributes to poverty passing from generation to generation.

  4. Children who migrate to cities with their parents are more likely to stop schooling. The study recorded following reasons provided by migrant parents for their children’s lack of schooling: continuous moves from one place to another (44 per cent), lack of schools in the vicinity (37 per cent), children working to contribute to the family income (15 per cent) and children taking care of younger siblings (14 per cent).

  5. The study found that many migrant families took their children aged less than five years to work with them due to unavailability of childcare. Here, the kids are often exposed to hazardous environments.

  6. Migrant labourers prefer sending their children to residential schools in their home villages instead of non-residential schools or taking them to cities. A provision of residential schools in areas with heavy migration would aid in providing quality education to children, the report notes.

  7. Many parents are also keen to send their children to private schools over government schools even if it affects their financial condition, the study found. However, they are more likely to send boys than girls to private institutions.

  8. The study recommends the establishment of flexible school systems for migrant children across the country. This would include facilites like residential schools, mobile schools and schools in the destination cities which teach in the mother tongue of migrant labourers. It also suggests setting up of anganwadis and creches near work sites for younger children.

  9. It also advocates for more funds to be provided for the Samagra Shiksha scheme of the Government of India to build adequate infrastructure necessary for educating migrant children. It also calls for the creation of a ‘Migrant Workers Children’s Education Fund’.

  10. The study recommends that existing schemes and policies such as the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 and National Education Policy 2020 be implemented more efficiently and thoroughly.

    Focus and Factoids by Sriranjini S.


Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, New Delhi


Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, New Delhi