Government schools having low number of students is no news. But what is unusual about Government Lower Primary School, Bairayikkulam, is that of the total 13 students there, 12 are children of migrant labourers, whose mother tongue include Bengali and Tamil.

Syamala V.K., headmistress, was a picture of poise when asked about the shrinking number of students in her school. “Education should not be looked upon only in terms of profit and loss. Our attempt should be to give the best education to students.”

Two years ago, the strength of the school was 22.

Asked whether cultural and language barriers were making it difficult for teachers to handle the students, she said, “They are quick learners. One staff from the Block Resource Centre, who is trained in Hindi, is visiting the school every week to help us. We are teaching them subjects in both Malayalam and English.”

Ms. Syamala said most of the students in the schools were involved in extracurricular activities too. Some of them have won prizes in a drawing competition organised by a local organisation.

Manju from Kolkata quickly breaks into a Malayalam rhyme when her teacher asks her to sing a song. “Malayalam ariyam,” she says before running away to the classroom.

Parents are happy too. Vijay, father of Nikesh, a Class 2 student, who does odd jobs such as painting work, says the teachers are taking care of his child well. “My other children joined a nearby upper primary school after passing Class 4 from the LP school,” he says.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Syamala had just returned to the school after visiting nearby areas and making arrangements to admit two students to Class 1 for the next academic year.

“It is our duty to protect public educational institutions. With the support of the government, we will try to do our best,” she said.