Published: 05th September 2020
Meet the Kochi teachers who go out and teach children of migrant workers living under a flyover
The teachers of St John's Bosco UP School started visiting these children when Kerala reopened its schools virtually in June
The last couple of months have been rather grim for Kerala. The Indian state was once hailed for flattening the COVID curve and not reporting a single positive case for days in a row. However, since July, the daily number of cases have been above 1,000 almost every day.
Elizabeth Fernandez tells us how her house was declared part of a containment zone twice in the last two months. She has no qualms about staying indoors. However, she misses going out to the Vallarpadom flyover in Kochi to meet the children of the migrant families who live there. The principal of St John's Bosco Upper Primary School, Kochi, Elizabeth and her colleagues Neema Thomas and Shamiya Baby have been visiting these children every day since the schools in Kerala reopened virtually in Kerala. While all other students listened to their online lessons on their computers, mobiles and TV, this teacher trio went to the space under the flyover where these families lived every day and made them watch these video classes on their mobile phones.
"These are children of fisherfolk who migrated from Karnataka. None of them have houses and they sleep on the streets or in the boats that they use to catch fish," says Elizabeth. "Their names aren't registered in any government records. When the schools were reopened virtually, there were a lot of interventions to provide gadgets to the other poor children in the state, but nobody noticed these children. Also, they have no access to electricity. So we thought of showing the video lessons to them on our phones," she says.
Elizabeth tells us about how most of these children have never been to school. "The older children took care of the younger ones, while their parents went to work. Upon reaching a certain age, they would help their parents in catching fish. So when we presented this idea, they were immediately on board," she says. It then began an everyday affair. They would teach children who were 14 and under.
However, they never anticipated that the COVID cases would rise the way it has, "This was indeed a shocker. At this time, the school management had asked us to stay indoors. So, the classes are temporarily suspended. However, we are still in touch with these families and will restart these classes as soon as things get better," she says. While the teachers started the classes initially with their own money, she says that they were contacted by a few of the benevolent lot who were ready to bear the children's study expenses. "I know each of these children quite well now. Some of them are good at art and there are some who really wish to study," she says, hoping that the pandemic ends soon.
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