“I had to work in a house in the nearby town and got many cuts on my fingers while cleaning or washing dishes. When I used to finish work, I would be really tired. I didn’t really like it but I had to work to help my mom.”
– Maina, from Assam whom we during this project
According to UNICEF, nearly 12% of Indian children between the age group of 5-14 have a fate similar to that of Maina. They are restricted by their circumstances to do menial jobs and to work as child laborers.
Battling these circumstances was our biggest challenge when we started our work in Bongaigaon, Assam. Parents had to be convinced both by logic as well as economic incentives to not force their children into labor.
For the children themselves this was the first time that their hands exchanged instruments of labor for a pencil. They were put through a specially designed curriculum so that they could get on to track to enter the formal education system. As a part of these efforts, we we were able to make a difference to the lives of 285 children.
We were able to convince the parents that their children needed education and not menial labor if they were to expand their economic opportunities. We believe that this change in mindset is a small but important step to help these people try an alternative route to work towards a better life.
How does the journey look so far?
5 special schools
set up in Bongaigoan
School curriculum includes
English, Math, Assamese, Art and Craft, Yoga, and General Knowldege
Vocational training workshops
held at regular intervals for skills such as agarbatti making, envelope making, fabric painting, making paper bags
A total of 285 students
in the age group of 6 to 14 years enrolled
identified who were eligible to go to the regular schools during the next academic year
How did we work?
The first two months of the project were untilized to identify the child laborers in Bongaigaon. Our team then convinced parents of these children to send them to our special schools.
In our schools, they were not only provided the basic education but vocational skills as well. Working with the government, we arranged for mid-day meals and compensation for these children to create greater economic incentives for the parents.
What did we learn?
It was thrilling to see the behavior of the children change with time. While they were reluctant and insecure at first, the children soon began to enjoy school and revealed a thirst for knowledge and a will to learn. Some of them showed extraordinary intelligence and skills.
How can you contribute?
We believe it is our duty and responsibility to keep the children away from child labor. We invite partnerships so that we can reach out to more children and communities.