IPL
The children, some rescued from working in brick kilns and others children of labourers, were brought to the Uppal stadium by the Hyderabad police.

At Sunday's match between Hyderabad Sunrisers and Delhi Capitals in Hyderabad, amidst the crowd of IPL regulars was a group of more than 50 children wearing orange bands around their heads and waving Sunrisers flags. The children, all studying at worksite schools in Adibatla, hooted and cheered loudly for the home team at the RGI Stadium at Uppal, giving tough competition to the usual IPL enthusiasts.

Under the initiative of the Rachakonda Police, over 50 children studying at worksite schools travelled from Ravirala village in Adibatla to Hyderabad to watch the IPL match. Some of the children were rescued from being employed in brick kilns by the police, while others are the children of brick kiln labourers in Telangana. But for many, it was the first live cricket match they were witnessing in a stadium.

Worksite schools is an initiative started by the Telangana state government for the benefit of children of migrant labourers working in brick kilns. Most of the labourers working at the brick kiln sites are migrants from Odisha who often push their kids into working at the sites due to lack of schools offering Odiya as the medium of instruction. To bridge the gap, in 2017 the Rachakonda Police along with representatives of brick kiln associations and the Aide et Action NGO launched worksite schools for these children.

“The labourers’ children often drop out [of school] once they reach Telangana," Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat told TNM. To prevent the kids from having to discontinue their studies, he said, "We established the first worksite school at Yadadri Bhongir district in 2017. The second one was opened in Ravirala village in 2018. Around 800 to 1,000 kids are taught in the schools from class 1 to 4 in Odiya. Mid-day meals are provided to the children and the remuneration for teachers is sponsored by the brick kiln association. As several cases were registered against brick kiln owners, they have taken measures to send the children of migrant labourers to worksite schools rather than employing them.”

“The match was like a joyride for the kids. It was probably for the first time that they were stepping outside their villages and witnessing something so huge outside their television sets,” the official added.

The worksite schools are located close to the brick kiln where the migrant labourers work. Every year, around December, migrant workers from Odisha reach the brick kilns in Telangana in search of work. Last year, around 800 child labourers were rescued by the Rachakonda Police and enrolled into the worksite schools.