Economic constraints force parents to send the children to work. The answer to this problem is to follow a dual approach. It is not only to get the children out of work and into bridge class or formal schools but also to provide better opportunities for the parents in order to eliminate the need for them to send their children to work. This was implemented successfully by Children's Welfare Society (CWS), a CRY supported project, in Ghorawal in Sonebhadra district in Uttar Pradesh, North India.
Subhag Lal was born in Ghorawal, a district of Uttar Pradesh, India, famous for carpet weaving. To pay off his family's debt, Subhag Lal like many other children in the district spent his entire childhood weaving carpets for less than minimum wage, instead of being in school. But this changed when Childrens Welfare Society (CWS), a CRY supported initiative took up Ghorawala's cause.
Non-formal classes (transit centres*) for working children were started, enabling them to get a chance to educate themselves in spite of having to work. The organisation started working towards improving the wages of the parents, ensuring that their children wouldn't have to work. 28 neighboring villages joined in making it a true people's movement. CWS also worked towards the return of community land seized by the local landlord to the villagers and collective farming started, with inputs from experts on farming methods and marketing of produce.
Today, there are 17 primary schools and 2 middle schools (government) in Ghorawal and near a 100% of the Adivasi children attend. One-time bonded labourers have become village Pradhans (chiefs) and women's self help groups and micro-credit societies have been formed no longer requiring aid from CRY or CWS.
CRY UK's Role
We partner with CRY, Child Rights and You, India's premier and most reputed child rights organization to ensure that grants are optimally utilised and the quality of projects is enhanced. CRY's experience in capacity building and monitoring has been developed over 35 years. This ensures that resources are deployed so as to address the root causes of poverty, exploitation and discrimination and grassroots projects are helped to maximise the impact of every pound.
To this end, we support and enable any or all of the following: Funding non-formal education centres and balwadis (pre-primary centres) for working children Funding the community organisers in CWS who brought the community together, helping them build perspectives on their rights Helping CWS plan campaigns and programs aimed at mobilising the community Providing training and organisational inputs to ensure accountability and effectiveness of the program. Linking the child rights agenda with macro issues of livelihood. Building a leadership team in CWS and presenting inputs on how to advocate for rights of the community. Linking CWS with other NGOs in the state and the country, to channel sharing of vital experiences and learnings.
At the core of all this work is the belief that each child has rights that society and the state owe them - the right to survive, to develop, to be protected against exploitation and to participate in the decisions affecting her/his future.
* transit schools: non-formal education centers that supplement regular primary education and motivate children to learn and want an education.