Number Of Teachers Key To Tackling Creating Child Labour Free Zones

Number Of Teachers Key To Tackling Creating Child Labour Free Zones – London Stone Managing Director Steve Walley tells us about this important issue

Child labour is a complex issue but it is only when you start working on trying to address the issue that you begin to understand just how complex it is. In the UK and Europe, we take for granted how good our education system is. We expect that when our children attend school there will be teachers present to teach them. The situation is very different in Budhpura, India. Before we go any further, a re-cap about the project we are working on to create child labour free zones in Budhpura.

Budhpura is a rural village in the state of Rajasthan, India, and one of the main sourcing regions for Indian Sandstone.  More specifically, Budhpura is widely known as being the key sourcing region for Sandstone cobbles (setts) and due to the nature of cobble production this makes the whole region particularly vulnerable to child labour.

An exciting project has been underway in Budhpura since 2015.  A group of NGO’s and private businesses (The Stop Child Labour Campaign, ARAVALI, Manjari, ICN, Belgium Stone importer, Stoneasy and UK based landscape materials importer, London Stone) came together with a simple mission; to eradicate Child labour in Budhpura.

The project has made lots of progress.  In the last 3 years, hundreds of children have been taken out of child labour and enrolled into formal education.  There’s a long road ahead though, and the whole project team are under no illusions that after three years of hard work we are still only scratching the surface as to the extent of this problem.

One of the biggest issues the project and the community have faced is a severe lack of quality teachers.  Manjari are the local NGO working on the ground in Budhpura and one of their key roles is to talk to the community and cajole and convince parents to the benefits of getting their children to attend school.  It doesn’t matter how good a job Manjari do though, if when the children get to school there are no teachers present to teach them. The parents of the children will lose their incentive. It is a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario and given this climate it is easy to see why children then disappear between the cracks and slip into child labour.

The lack of quality teachers has been a huge barrier to progress for this project, so we are ecstatic to be able to share some amazing news with you.  After years of lobbying at different levels of local Indian Government we have finally secured a large influx of teachers to come and work at some of the local Budhpura schools. We’ve produced a simple table a comparison of teacher numbers from Spring to Autumn 2018.  The numbers have almost doubled, clearly demonstrating the fantastic progress we have made:

Name of School No of Teachers as of 10.04.2018 No of Teachers as of 10.10.2018 % Increase
1 Budhpura Choraha 04 08 100%
2 Bhilon ka Jhopda 01 02 100%
3 Dhorela 01 02 100%
4 Parana Gurjar 01 02 100%
5 Parana Karado 01 02 100%
6 Parana Ramdev 01 02 100%
7 Budhpura Gaon 04 07 75%
Overall Total 13 25 92%

Doubling the number of teachers in local schools is a massive achievement for the project and represents a huge step forward for the reliability and quality of education available in Budhpura.  It must have been extremely demoralising for Manjari to see all their efforts of lobbying the community go to waste because the schools could not provide the number of teachers required. This development can only strengthen Manajaris hand when talking to the parents of local children. This whole project is about breaking down barriers to progress and by doubling the number of teachers in Budhpura we have removed a huge barrier to children attending school.  Stay posted for further progress updates in due course.

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Rajender, a teacher’s story

Rajender is a school teacher at the primary school in one of the hamlets surrounding Budhpura. Almost 30 children in class are paying great attention to what he writes on the school board. “So much has happened here over the past few years”, he says, “around four years ago almost no child came to school”. The most important reasons? Parent’s lack of awareness about the importance of education and the lack of good quality schools.

Local ngo Manjari went into the hamlets to reach out to parents and to improve the access to education and its quality. With success: nowadays 90% of children from this hamlet goes to school and the schools have improved facilities. “A good education means a chance of getting a better job and consequently a better future for these children”, says Rajender, “that’s well worth committing myself to”.

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Embroidery Courses Empowering the Women of Budhpura

Manjari have just organised 5 days stitching training for a group of 20 local young women and girls.  The stitching training was carried out at the Manjari headquarters in Budhpura .

The feedback for the participants was that they enjoyed the training and are very keen to learn more.  The participants have been asked to practice the skills that they have learnt in preparation for some advanced stitching training which is again to be organised by the Manajri team.

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Sanjay’s story: cobble worker turns school pupil

Sanjay stands out in his classroom: not just because he is one of the tallest children, but also because he is very motivated. Not so long ago, his life was completely different: Sanjay worked in the stone quarry from when he was 9 years old until he was 12. He made cobblestones for the European market. Until his employer decided, one year ago, that it was enough.

“He told me that I could no longer work for him. We went to school together and he enrolled me,” says Sanjay.

Ever since 2013, the local NGO Majari has been working to convince the entire community that children should be at school and not at work. “It is really great that even employers are taking their responsibility now,” says Bajrang, a very proactive member of Manjari. Sanjay is doing his very best to catch up at school with all the years he missed out on.

What would he like to be when he grows up? “A teacher!” he beams.

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CLFZ: Building a Community

“Every child should be in school’  This is the fundamental principle of Child Labour Free Zones.  To achieve this goal though, a holistic approach is required that looks at the bigger picture as to why children in Budhpura end up working in cobble yards. That’s why the Manjari team also supports young adults to achieve vocational training.  This helps them to earn a decent income, so that their younger brothers and sisters can focus on their education.

Netu and Hamleta are 19 years old and both dropped out of school many years ago. They are no longer of a school going age, but they are part of a Manjari skill building/training programme to teach young women stitching skills.

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