2,600 children in India escape work through education

Photo credit: Aide et Action

Aide et Action is fighting to make access to education a reality for millions of children who are still deprived of it. But beyond this mission, we also work to ensure that their fundamental rights are respected, such as the right to be protected against economic exploitation. In India, for example, over the past four years, we have helped 2,600 children escape from hazardous work. 

On the occasion of the International Day against Child Labour on 12 June, we would like to share with you the results of our work in India over the past four years. In India, nearly 100 million people are considered seasonal migrant workers. Among them, 10 to 15 million are children who find themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation. In order to provide them with the best possible support and to protect them from the risk Aide et Action offers them an adapted educational solution that allows them to escape from work. 

I'm afraid of losing a year in my studies

" I love reading books and going to school. But every time I migrated here with my parents, I was afraid to lose a year of my studies "Pupesh, a 10-year-old girl, explains. Her parents are seasonal migrant workers from the state of Odisha who migrate to Telangana every year to work in a brick factory. During this season, which usually starts in December and ends in June, Pupesh used to stop her studies and help her parents achieve their goal of making bricks.

Children on construction sites are often subjected to extreme abuse, violence, exploitation and a harmful environment, and are often left to fend for themselves. Due to the frequent mobility of families, children of workers are distanced from education, health care and childcare services, both in their home village and in their migration area.

A tailored solution to combat the scourge

In 2017, an action by the Rachakonda Police Commission paved the way for an innovative educational programme in partnership between the Telangana government, the Telangana Brick Kilns Association and Aide et Action. As part of Operation Smile, a nationwide campaign against child labour, the police raided all informal settlements and rescued 376 migrant children from brick kilns in and around Hyderabad.

All rescued children were enrolled in local public schools located near the work sites or in temporary schools set up by the brickworks owners directly on the sites. In this way, the 'site schools' became a reality and gave hope that the children could exercise their right to education with dignity. As the children are from Odisha, a state where the language is different, Aide et Action mobilized adapted textbooks and educational actors from the same state to provide education in their mother tongue. The brick kiln owners decided to support the program and the parents were delighted to see their children being educated in a foreign state when they did not expect it. The district administration, for its part, provided midday meals and learning kits to all children on an equal basis with local children. Once the migration season was over, the children of the workers were able to return to schools in their home villages in Odisha. Aide et Action ensures their educational continuity in the villages.

Providing education and care for children

After the successful demonstration of this initiative in 2017, the partnership between the Rachakonda police, the district administration, Aide et Action and the brick kiln owners is continuing and strengthening. It provides education and care for migrant children. The initiative has succeeded in curbing the problem of child labour in the partner brick kilns. Over the past 4 years, 2,600 children have been enrolled in "site schools" in Telangana.

I am very happy now. For the past 3 years, our family has been coming to the same site to work because there is a school for us. I go to school regularly and I also get a lunch Pupesh, a fourth-grader at a school in Peddakonduru, Yadadri district, says, "I'm not sure what to do about it. Her teacher, Siddeswar Chandan, an inter-state education volunteer, adds: " It is a great pleasure for me to teach migrant children in their mother tongue. I stay for 6 months on the site and then I go back with the children. Once back, I facilitate their enrolment in schools in their respective villages. "

For Aide et Action, every child should receive a quality education and have the chance to pursue their dreams. However, today, 218 million children between 5 and 17 years old are deprived of this opportunity and are employed instead. Among them, 152 million are engaged in child labour and almost half, 73 million, are engaged in hazardous work (source: United Nations).

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