Agriculture Industry

Karnataka: Sugarcane growers’ body seeks temporary schools for migrants in Belagavi

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10 November 2023, Karnataka: The Belagavi Sugarcane Growers’ Association has urged the state government to build temporary tent schools for the children of sugarcane cutters from Maharashtra, who migrate to Karnataka for seasonal work, people familiar with the matter said, adding the demand is being made to prevent children from getting deprived of their education and giving them facilities to complete the syllabus during their stay in the state.

Labourers from different districts of Maharashtra migrate with the children to Karnataka to work in Sugarcane fields every year. (HT Photo)

Labourers from different districts of Maharashtra migrate with the children to Karnataka to work in Sugarcane fields every year.

Around 50 young children up to class 5 from families of sugarcane-cutting labourers in Maharashtra have been deprived of their education due to their parents’ work in various fields in Karnataka. Approximately a hundred families with young children from different districts in Maharashtra come to Karnataka to cut sugarcane for their livelihood throughout the year, an official familiar with the matter said.

Siddagouda Modagi, the convenor of the Belagavi district sugarcane growers’ association, said, “Every year, about 100 families from Latur, Bid, Usmanabad, and Solhapur districts in Maharashtra come here along with their children to cut sugarcane and return home after completing the work.”

He added that the cutting process takes 4 to 5 months, during which the children’s education is compromised. The association insists that no child should be denied their right to education and has brought this matter to the attention of the Belagavi district administration and the sugar mills. They have also advised the Karnataka government’s Marathi school teachers to continue teaching the syllabus during the four-month gap.

Maruti Patil, a sugarcane cutter from Bid district in Maharashtra said, “Since many years, we come to Belagavi to cut sugarcane. We stay here for four months until the harvest is complete. During this time, our children don’t get to go to schools,” he said.

Lakshman Kamble, another labourer from Latur, who is staying in Belagavi with his son Karthik studying in class 1 at a government school back in Latur said, “We hope that the Karnataka government starts temporary Marathi tent schools to allow our children to continue their education.”

Belagavi deputy commissioner, Nitesh Patil assured that the matter will be raised with the sugar factories and discussed in the next meeting with them.

“The district administration will soon take up the matter with the government, and children will be taught their syllabus by our teachers,” Patil said.

When contacted, Mohan Hanchatti, deputy director of public instruction (DDPI) for Chikkodi, where over 70% of the sugar factories are located, indicated that temporary tent schools will be established near the residences of the labourers working in sugarcane fields. “Marathi teachers will be deployed to teach their syllabus. We are still waiting for the approval from the education department,” he said.

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