Imagine receiving hundreds of yellow postcards every year, each reading just the same. To many it may be monotonous and bordering on the mundane but not for G Prakash Raj, a charity worker from India's Tamil Nadu state, who is has been receiving them since the past 2 years. Raj still feels the same excitement when he receives one for each postcard is sent by a migrant child informing Raj that he/she is safely back home, and more importantly, back in school.
The postcard program was launched in Tamil Nadu in 2014 as a way of tracking the education of some of the more than 10 million children who migrate with their families to different parts of India every year.
Raj, who works for Aide et Action, a non-governmental group which is collaborating with the education department to keep migrant children in school says, "When they are at work sites with their parents, we try and ensure they get basic access to education, however, when they head back to their villages 6 months later, they need to go back to school. Tracking that has been a big challenge".
The postcard program is the first initiative of its kind that tracks the education of migrant children across state borders. The mode of operation is simple – migrant families working in Tamil Nadu are given a postcard when they head home. Once back, they need to get it signed and stamped by the principal of the village school and send it back to Aide et Action.
"In the postcard, the principal writes back to us saying that the child has been enrolled back in school. It's just a note but we are able to track a child's academics through it," said an official at education department, requesting anonymity.
The return rate of postcards has been impressive with 495 of the 547 postcards issued last year making their way back with the good news that the children had been successfully enrolled in school.
To ensure the children are back in school, Aide et Action volunteers in cooperation with the education department travel to the home states and cross check enrollments. Even families who do not send back a postcard are traced back to their villages and counseled to enroll their children in school.
The shining success of the postcard program has prompted similar initiatives in other migration hubs across India, including in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.
image used for representational purposes only