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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 3f
Mumbai Night Schools

A compelling feature of migration from the Coastal belt and Karnataka more broadly, is the unique way that new associations (Kannada Sanghas) catered for the needs of newly arrived migrants. The first such association, the Moghaveera (fishermen) Society in Bombay, was established as early as 1902. One of the most striking observations from the phase 1 research has been the role that the city’s Night Schools played in the further education of children who were working in small South-Indian eating places. The first such Kannada Night School, Mother India, was opened by the Moghaveera community as early as 1918. Over the next 30 years a number of new Schools were opened across the city with the central area known as Fort Mumbai having five such Kannada Night schools. As our research has found, the demand for Night School educational services are presently in decline and several of the old Schools have therefore closed down. While these institutions have played a pivotal role in extending education services to thousands of child labour migrants from Karnataka’s Coastal belt, the recent decline in child labour migration from the same area of has made some of these institutions redundant. Their history and the role that owners of small South-Indian eating places, themselves natives of the Coastal belt, played both in establishing these institutions and in facilitating workhour flexibility to allow for the further schooling of these kids, is unprecedented and represents, we believe, a unique chapter in the history of child labour migration. Indeed, some of the most successful contemporary entrepreneurs within the South-Indian food industry are themselves former Night School students.

Key Research Questions

Dot What was the role of owners of South-Indian eating places and others in establishing, expanding and maintaining the day to day operations of these institutions ?
Dot How widespread, among employers, was the support for education of working children ?
Dot What can we learn from school records about attendance figures and the native and other backgrounds of the students ?
Dot And how did these attendance figures change over time ? What was the peak period ? And when did the decline set in ?
Dot How did these institutions differ from other schools and what types of knowledge did they offer ?
Dot Compared to the educational opportunities in their native places, is it reasonable to argue that child labour migration strengthened the educational access of these children ?



Key Theme(s)
Health and Education

Type(s) of Migration
Child Migration

Bangladesh / South Asia


Ron Skeldon

Vegard Iversen (UEA)
Raghavendra (ISEC, India)

Key Activities


The project will seek to consolidate knowledge about the history of Mumbai’s night schools which provided unique avenue for further educational pursuits for young migrant children migrating to the city for jobs in the food and catering sectors. Over a period of two months, we will undertake archival searches and conduct interviews with teachers, former students, employers and other stakeholders to learn as much as possible about the rise and decline of Mumbai’s Kannada Night Schools. School attendance data is expected to shed novel and important light on the scale, composition and fluctuations in child labour migration from the Coastal belt to Mumbai from the 1930s and onwards.

Key Outputs

One DRC-working paper which will form the basis for one journal article

A brief summary paper in Economic and Political Weekly


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs