The Global Concerns Trust supports a ‘bridge school’ in Mudigere, Karnataka. Our aim is to encourage children of workers on the coffee plantations to start attending school, and learn within an informal environment that will enable them to join a regular school class in future.
Many of the workers on the plantations around the town of Mudigere are migrant workers, from within Karnataka state. The area produces cardamom, rice, pepper and betel leaf, although it is coffee that is the greatest source of revenue. A male plantation worker receives Rs150 a day. A female plantation worker receives Rs120.
Children of coffee plantation workers often do not attend school, or have a high drop-out rate. In Mudegire, the government primary school used to be a model school. Previous students include government ministers, who, unfortunately, have not contributed to the school since they have left. Many other children in the town go to private schools. Only those who cannot afford to pay, the children of the plantation workers, street loaders, and daily labourers, go to the government school.
Thus, the school has become a ‘bridge school’. Children who have never attended school before learn in a more informal atmosphere, to inspire them to learn, prior to joining a regular school class.
The majority of the children are first generation learners; their parents have not attended school. This is an important factor increasing the likelihood of the children dropping out of school. Whilst some parents admit their children to school, they do not come to see their children’s progress, or attend parent-teacher meetings.
Some of the children do not have any parents, or come from single parent families. Some children live in a government hostel, as the plantations their parents live and work on are too far away. There is no one who takes responsibility for making sure that the children attend school.
Kumar studied in this school. He now has a Diploma in Education, and is employed to assist the teachers at his old school. For the past two years, he has been working on retaining the children in the school. Kumar carries out home visits, if children do not attend school for a few days, gives family counselling, and helps the children in class; all to ensure that the children do not drop out of school. As a result, the dropout rate has been falling.
Kumar also works identifying youths who have dropped out of school, and working with them to encourage them to go back and receive an education.