On January 20, the first of these schools, the Ituka Battila Valasa Karmikula Bala Balikala, was started in Peddakondur village of Chottupal mandal, Yadadri Bhongir district. It has a total of 182 children, aged 5-12 years, all belonging to Odisha, studying from Class 1 to 5th class.A second school was started on January 30 at Ravirala village and it now has over 500 children.
Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat said there were plans to open two more schools, one at Keesara in Medchal district and another one in Bommala Ramaram mandal of Yadadri. A notable feature of these schools is that the medium of instruction is Odia so that these children, from neighbouring Odisha, can be taught in a language they are familiar with. The Telangana State Brick Kiln Owners Association has appointed Odia teachers in these schools and is also paying their salaries.
"Imparting education in their mother tongue will help the children continue with their studies once they are back in their native Odisha. Once the children return to Odisha, their education will be continued there in partnership with the Odisha government," Bhagwat explained.Calling it a first-of-its-kind initiative, Bhagwat said that these schools would save vulnerable children from becoming child labourers, adding that it could be replicated in other parts of the counntry.
He added that such schools had become a self sustainable partnership with brick kiln owners lending a helping hand as well as the district administration chipping in by providing rice at Rs 1 per kilogram for mid-day meals for the children.Bhagwat said that under "Operation Smile Three" in 2017, the Rachakonda Police rescued 804 children from forced labour.
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