From a child labourer to a train pilot of Southern Railway, it has been an arduous journey for S. Mayakannan.
With four siblings — all child labourers — and living under a corroded tin roof with his parents who are eking out a livelihood in the match industry, Mr. Mayakannan’s life has finally turned the corner. On Monday, he will be reporting for duty in Tiruchi.
“It has become possible because of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and the sacrifice of my two brothers who quit their studies to support my education, as my parents are too poor to provide education to all of us,” Mr. Mayakannan told The Hindu.
A native of Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district, Mr. Mayakannan’s family migrated to A. Ramalingapuram to work in the match industry when he was six year old. “I used to pack match boxes. Even after joining the special training centre run by the NCLP, I continued to work after school hours,” said Mr Mayakannan.
He was mainstreamed into the Government Higher Stanislaus High School in Sattur and scored 438 marks in the SSLC examinations. Later, he joined S.R. Government Higher Secondary School and secured 1,024 marks in the Plus Two examinations. He completed Electronics and Communications Engineering at Anna University Campus in Tindivanam in 2013.
“But pursuing higher education is an extremely difficult task for me as the fee structure is beyond my means. Monetary support from Karvannan, owner of Sony Fire Works, where my father is an employee, and Sankar Mahadevan of Udavum Ullangam, offered help,” said Mr. Mayakannan who worked in the outsourcing section briefly.
The State government stipend of Rs 500 per month to former child labourers is nothing when compared to the fees in colleges.
“Many students are once again forced to become child labourers, as they are not able to meet the expenses in colleges. Unless the government sets apart a special fund for the purpose we cannot ensure a good future for such students. Since their numbers are less, it will not cost the government much,” said officials working with the NCLP.
Born to parents working in match industry, Mayakannan’s story is an inspiring example of
can-do spirit