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 act to ensure respect for their fundamental rights such as protection against economic exploitation. In India, for example, in the past four years, we have helped 2,600 children escape dangerous work.
On the occasion of the International Day against Child Labor, celebrated on June 12, we want to share with you the fruit of the work that we have been doing in India for four years. In this country, almost 100 million people are considered seasonal migrant workers. Among them, 10 to 15 million are children who find themselves in a situation of extreme vulnerability. To best support them and protect them from the risk of economic exploitation, Aide et Action offers them an adapted educational solution that allows them to escape from work.
I am afraid to lose out a year of my education
« I love reading books and going to school but whenever I came here with my parents, I was afraid to lose out a year of my education,” says 10-year-old Pupesh Kata. Her parents are seasonal migrants from Balangir district of Odisha who migrate to Telangana every year to work in a brick kiln. During the brick-making season which usually begins in December and ends in June, Pupesh used to discontinue her education and help her parents accomplish the brick making target.
Often, on the construction sites, children encounter extreme abuse, violence, exploitation and live in a testing environment apart from living an invisible life. Due to frequent mobility, the brick kiln children move away from education, health care, and child welfare services, both at source and destination.
A suitable solution to combat the scourge
In 2017, an action taken by the Rachakonda Police Commissionarate paved the way for an innovative education program in partnership between the Telangana government, brick kilns association of Telangana, and Aide et Action. As part of the “Operation Smile” a nation-wide campaign against child labor, the police conducted raids across all the informal establishments and rescued 376 migrant children from brick kilns in and around Hyderabad.
All the rescued children were either enrolled in the local government schools located near the brick kilns or at the temporary schools established by the brick kiln owners on the premises of the worksites. Thus “Worksite Schools” become a reality and nurtured hopes for the brick kiln children to pursue their right to education with dignity. Since the children were from Odisha, a state where language is not the same, textbooks and education volunteers from Odisha were mobilized by Aide et Action to impart education in their mother tongue. The brick kiln owners came forward to support the programme and parents were overwhelmed to see their children finding schooling in an alien state which they never expected. The district administration, on its part, provides mid-day meals and learning kits to all the children on par with the local children. Once the migration season ends, the children are re-integrated into schools in their native villages in Odisha. Aide et Action ensures their continued education in Odisha.
Provide education and care for children
After successful demonstration of the ‘Worksite School’ initiative in 2017, the partnership between Rachakonda Police Commissionerate, District Administration, Aide et Action international and brick kiln owners is growing strong and ensuring education & child care to migrant children. The initiative has succeeded in making the brick kilns free from child labor. In the last 4 years, 2600 children were enrolled in “worksite” schools of Telangana.
“I am very happy now. For the last 3 years, our family comes to the same worksite to work because there is a school for us. I am attending the school regularly and I receive mid-day meal too,” quips Pupesh who is enrolled in 4th standard at a school in Peddakonduru, Yadadri district. Her teacher, Siddeswar Chandan, Inter-state Education Volunteer adds: « It gives me immense pleasure to teach Odia migrant children of 1st to 7th standard in their mother tongue. I stay here for 6 months at the worksite and return with the children. After returning back to the source I facilitate the enrolment of these children in respective village schools. »
For Aide et Action, every child should receive a quality education and have the chance to pursue their dreams. Yet today, 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are deprived of this opportunity and are employed instead. Among them, 152 million are engaged in child labor and almost half, 73 million, perform hazardous work (source: United Nations).