Aksharavani is a primary education center committed to the needs and comprehensive educational fulfillment of the children of migrant laborers on the University of Hyderabad’s campus. We are also growing as a model for migrant school projects in similar communities throughout India.

In Sanskrit, “akshar” is the word for a “letter, symbol” and “vani” means “voice.” So Aksharavani is representative of both the objective and identity of the school – a space for studying and learning, with the parents’ input as a guiding factor. In fact, the name of the school came through a robust vote by the mothers of the migrant children who attend it. Approximately 40 children come to school fairly consistently and the school is staffed by two teachers and a babysitter. Meals are cooked on site and the children fed daily. The children progress through a mobile curriculum that we developed during the early growth of the school–mobile because it aims to address the challenge of continuity in education for a community that moves frequently.

The population-language ratio is split almost evenly between Telugu-speakers (from coastal Andhra) and Hindi-speakers (from Chattisgarh), with some children of Tribal origins (from Andhra and Orissa) as well. The school has faced its share of challenges. The infrastructure is lacking: the classroom was missing a door and there are no bathrooms, for instance, supplies get stolen from the school, and volunteer help is unpredictable. But through the hard work of many individuals, it has slowly progressed to a place of effective learning, where the children develop a sense of ownership of the school, their community and their futures, and most of all, where they develop a voice.

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