The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government to open schools in rural areas to provide free primary education to the children of migrant labourers who work in sugarcane fields.
Hearing a petition filed by Maharashtra Sugarcane Growers and Transporters association, Justice B H Marlapalle observed that the children of agricultural workers cannot be denied the Right to Education guaranteed by the Constitution.
The petition contended that the workers should be given enhanced wages and facilities such as education to children. It alleged that the state had come out with many schemes for such children but was not implementing them.
The petition said that workers migrate from their homes to various places in rural areas in search of jobs in sugarcane fields and along with them their families also move for temporary period upto six months till the cultivation season lasts. As the children go with their parents they are deprived of education.
Sudhir Goyal, secretary of school education, filed an affidavit saying that the state had taken many steps in the last six months in its pursuit to provide free education to children in rural areas. A survey had also been conducted to study the needs of migrant workers in sugarcane fields.
The survey had revealed that most workers migrate from Beed district while maximum sugar factories are located in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts, he said.
Accordingly, the state was considering to open free schools and residential hostels in Beed district and other parts of rural areas for children of migrant agricultural labourers. Even if 20 such children are found in a particular area, a residential school and hostel will be set up for them.