Helping child workers in India continue their education

If you are following our social media channels, you should know by now that OneWorld Foundation is directing its efforts towards the critical issue of child labour and its prevention. There are several ways to do so and we will do our best to try to employ all of them. Firstly, we raise public awareness about the fact that there are more than 200 millions child labourers today. Secondly, we believe that the best tool to prevent this from happening is education and therefore, we support projects which encourage children to study rather than work. Lastly, to do so the local communities and the families of the children should be also involved in the process. The project below is one of the many which, we believe, can make a difference for the child workers.

According to our partners from the Child in Need Institute (CINI), India children from poor communities in India who do not attend school are easily absorbed into the labour force. Young people whose families have migrated from neighboring states are particularly likely to drop out of school, as their education has already been disrupted. For girls the situation is even worse due to early marriages they are forced to enter into. According to CINI "it is common for families to believe that educating girls is unimportant, and that they should contribute to the family through paid labour while still young, or take on a heavy load of household chores." Therefore, CINI uses peer educators to advocate the value of educating girls through home visits in the local communities where they work. What is more, CINI aims to reach out to the most vulnerable children in Kolkata who are not attending school and who are involved in worst form of child labour such as sorting waste in the rubbish dumps, and helping cut leather and rubber straps to make sandals and shoes.

This was also one of the main reasons why we decided to help CINI provide these children with academic and non-academic support, through educational learning centres. The centres are located in core slums pockets of Kolkata, where many children are engaged in hazardous occupations as mentioned above.

With our support 75 to 80 school-aged children will be directly benefited by being provided with intensive educational support, so they can acquire skills on reading, writing and comprehension that will enable them to retain in school and to grow into productive citizens. In addition, more than 1000 indirect beneficiaries, among whom are parents, teachers, employers, peers and the whole local community, will be postively impacted by making them aware of the importance of education, and by encouraging them to make the changes needed to enable more children from poor families to attend school regularly.

The funding provided from OWF will be used in 4 targeted areas of Kolkata Municipal corporation: Topsia, Tiljala, Tangra and Khanaberia which are predominantly inhabited by minority population. People of these areas are mostly wage earners engaged in leather work, rag picking, tanning industry, strip cutting, bag making, plastic work. Education is of secondary importance to them while child labour in unhealthy, congested confinements to support the family is prevalent. Even if some of the children are enrolled in schools, they have to engage in part time work as well.

In order to tackle these problems, our joint project with CINI aims to enroll children from the age group of 6 to 14 years in remedial back up support centres where drop out school children will be provided with remedial education support to enable their better intergation into the school system. Furthermore, CINI's trained staff will provide family and community strengthening support by counseling the parents on their rights, duties and responsibilities, different acts and entitlements for children. They will also introduce awareness programmes and local events and celebrations in the communities, spreading messages on child rights and related issues. Trainings on non academic issues like life skills, health and hygiene will be carried out as well. Finally, the children will be periodically assessed so their progress can be tracked and monitored.

OneWorld Foundation hopes that by supporting this project, around 80 school-aged children will be reenrolled and will get academic support from the centres. Furthermore, 60% of these children will get confident in reading and writing by the end of the project. The learning gaps between the children will be closed and their class attendance will increase significantly.

The projects starts in January 2017 and will be carried out for a whole year. OWF will share quaterly reports on the children's progress.