Bricks are seen as a part of Nepalese art and architecture from the very beginning. Old Nepalese temples are the testimonial of long history of brick production and its various uses. Archaeologists have the opinion that production of bricks started in Kathmandu valley and spread to other parts of the country as the oldest monument and temples here are constructed using bricks. The excavation of Lumbini contains remnants of old buildings which tell that the history of brick manufacturing dates more than three thousand years back. Usually when there was no technology to fire the bricks, raw and sun-dried bricks were used. Some old houses of Kathmandu valley are still seen to make houses using raw bricks. Increasing urbanization within the valley has fueled a growing construction industry and soaring demand for bricks. Even though the history of brick production is very long, the mode of production and working environment is as worse as ever. Despite investment on this industry is very large, brick industry still falls under small/cottage industry group.
Work in brick factory is time bound and seasonal, starting from October through May, until the monsoon season. Brick kiln work is usually easy to find and there is no need for specialized training or education. Hence, brick factories attract a lot of unskilled workers. These seasonal laborers represent a cross section of the most disadvantaged groups in Nepal – internally displaced by armed conflict, natural disasters victims, landless and having no source of income to survive in their home village, or those looking for seasonal employment. Others include women and children who face domestic violence and harassment. Extreme poverty and marginalized caste status have denied them access to education and healthcare, and made these women and children vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. Rampant poverty and lesser work opportunities in the countryside compel the poor to migrate to far off places and do menial labor in meager wages.
Child labor remains a major economic and social phenomenon in Nepal. Children of brick kiln workers usually accompany their parents to the factories and are compelled to help their parents due to the cash incentive, which help them and their families for hand to mouth existence. Most of the displaced children work in brick factories; stone quarries, coalmines and majority of them are aged 11-13. These children work in the worst conditions imaginable and face serious risk of injury, chronic illness or even death.
There are 700 brick kilns in Nepal and the number is highest in Kathmandu valley. Out of 176, 250 kiln workers, 59,925 are estimated to be children. Among these children, 21 percent belong to the socially marginalized castes and 74 percent are economic migrants from different districts. [i] Children working in the brick factories in the valley are a mix of different castes. These children along with their families migrate seasonally from remote communities like Lalitpur, Makwanpur, Rolpa, Sarlahi, Kavre, Ramechhap and Sindhuli. [ii] According to the 2011 survey, 32% of total brick factory work forces were child laborers. Among them, 54.2% were girls while 45.8% were boys. 59.6% were below ten years of age, 36.6% belonged to 11-14 years and 3.7% were older than 14 years. [iii]
Unobserved by the outside world these children miss their education damaging their future prospects. Also, taking a day off to rest means not earning enough to eat, so health problems escalate as sick or injured children continue working putting themselves at risk of long-term debilitation. Hence, we need some sustainable plan of action to mitigate these problems and prevail practice of employing children in such hazardous work places should be prohibited.
In 2003, the literacy rate of the Nepalese population above 15 years of age was 45.2%. One of the most effective ways to combat child labor is to change misunderstanding from within. This can only be done through education. Education acts not only as means to develop the minds of children, but also as a foundation for social change.
Powerful Hands, a non-profit organization was established in 2011, led by a group of young and energetic youths from various educational and career backgrounds. This organization works with a belief that it is not necessary to “do different things but do things differently” under the upcoming issues related to Environment, Health and Education. Powerful Hands, significantly works in the field of education and environment for sustainable development, Powerful Hands in collaboration with Aastha Foundation, another non-profit organization with a mission to advocate for the rights of women and children have incepted this project to educate children working in brick factories.
Reduce repetition and dropout rate by giving education continuity for children who migrate seasonally to work in brick factories
To create opportunities for continuing education for children (7 to 16 years of age) of brick industry workers during their seasonal migration to Nepal
To create awareness on the importance of education.
To reduce child labor.
To promote education and awareness among brick industry workers on health and sanitation
To motivate children to take up and continue formal education
5. Target Groups
The poorest of the poor join the brick factory in November. This is when the land is dry and suitable for brick production. The children arrive with their entire family. The children either look after the younger ones and take care of the household or join as laborers. The kilns do not provide for basic needs such as shelter, food, education or medical services. As a result the families live in makeshift shelters: small huts made out of unfired bricks or iron sheets. As brick kilns can usually be found in rural areas, with no proper road access, and far away from shops, schools, and hospitals, life at the kiln is a struggle for survival.
The project expects to cover 9 brick factories situated in Harisiddhi VDC where 300-400 children work as laborers. These children will be divided in different groups according to their age and grades. The younger ones will be given basic education who are about the age to join school. The rest who are school dropouts will continue their education, so that they can sit for the exam and are promoted to higher classes.
6. Working area
About 8km far from the capital of Nepal, on the way to southeast Godawari forest, there is a historical village named Harisiddhi Village where surname Maharjan of Newar caste is lived most.
Goddess Harsiddhi, whose 4-storied temple is situated in the middle of the village, names this village. The word Harisiddhi is by mistakenly used. Actually, it should be Hara (Shiva) and Siddhi (Parbati) or Harasiddhi that indicates a half of body is Shiva and the remaining half is Parbati or the attribute of ShivaParbati. According to the Hindu Econography goddess Harsiddhi has 4 hands with Damaru, Kamandalu, Khadga and Kalash. The origin of this goddess is Ujjain India.
This village is about 4400ft high from the sea level. Its latitude is 270 38′ north and longitude is 850 21′ east and the temperature is between 20C – 340C. This village is surrounded by Godawari Stream in the east and Kodku Stream in the west. Most of the land in this village is plain and because of fertile soil, the crops are very good here. There is Siddipur VDC in the east, Dhapakhel VDC in the west, Thaiba VDC in the south and Imadol VDC lies in the northern part of this village.
7. Project Details
The name of the project will be “Shiksha Sadan”, an Educational School. This school will be opened in the project site for easy access to the children. Though, the project targets to give formal education to the children it will be an informal type of teaching as they are already affiliated with some of the schools in their villages. The project has targeted children aged 7 to 16, as this will be the right age to start and finish school.
The project will have numerous edutainment activities to make learning easy and fun. Children will be provided lunch after their study hours. For each class, Ayah’s will be responsible to take care of the children. Two of the staff members will be appointed in the project site and a teacher will be hired to teach everyday except on holidays.
The project foresees to continue the program as far as the brick factory endures where number of children work day and night. The insight of the project is not only to educate children but also to teach them to use soap to wash their hands, brush their teeth twice a day, take bath, use latrine to keep them healthy and fit. A medical person will check their health at least once a week and proper medicines will be prescribed. The findings from the project site are attached. (See Annex I)
Lessen repetition and dropout rates of students.
Create awareness on importance of education to reduce illiteracy rate.
Minimize rate of Child labor
Motivate to live healthy lives
9. Strategies and Activities
Conduct Rapid Assessment of number of children in the working area
Conduct classes as per their age and grades
Organize free check-ups for the children as well as their parents
Organize interactive meetings with stake holders (laborers, contractors, brick kiln managers, community leaders, labor union, representatives from government including District Development Committee etc.
Define main needs and interventions
Establish services and monitoring and evaluation systems
Create awareness and exposure at the local, provincial and national level and ensure legal welfare rights for the children.
Need of advocacy
The conditions of working children are largely unknown to the public. The brick kilns operate without monitoring, far away from urban centers. Since many of the brick kiln workers are laborers the priority intervention should be advocacy for ending this. By creating a presence at the brick kilns throughout the season we can at least monitor and evaluate human rights abuses and together with other organizations lobby for permanent solutions to the problems.
c) Educational needs of children
It is not convincing to send the children to school, as their families need extra support and money. Establishing Siksha Sadan in the region will serve different purposes, such as education, health check-ups and awareness on health and sanitation.
Siksha Sadan provides a secure and fun environment for children. Siksha Sadan prepares children for formal education and helps develop socio-emotional and cognitive skills. This project will also work as a shelter for children. The children will stay there from their work to learn, eat and rest. The very young children will be take care of by the Ayahs.
10. Project Management
a) Human Resource
Siksha Sadan will hire local teachers from Harisiddhi VDC. The teachers, who volunteer, will be trained by one of the teacher trainers to make the program effective and successful. They will work throughout the project time. The support staff will help them and hired Ayahs will assist them. The classes will be conducted as per Nepal Government’s policy.
b) Project Timeline
The project will be initiated from November till May. The project will be inactive from June to October. During off-season Powerful Hands and Aastha Foundation will prepare reports and budget for next season to give continuity.
c) Project Budget
The project budget is designed according to the plan of the project for six months, each year. The budget report will be presented every after completion of project activities. The project budget is attached with this concept letter (See Annex II)
d) Monitoring and Evaluation
The tools for monitoring and evaluation will be developed in order to monitor project activities each year. It is important to monitor and evaluate the project to ensure that the target groups have benefitted from the project so that each year the children go back home and prepare for their examinations.
Findings from the survey
During seasonal migration, children who come with their parents cannot continue their studies. Children migrate with their families to earn money in brick factories. Some of the children are admitted in schools and some are not. Most of the students repeat classes and some students fail to get promoted, as they do not attend classes.
Most of the parents are uneducated and illiterate and do not value education. They feel that their children need to work in order to earn money and support the family. Although, one center is working in the area, it is difficult to give continuity because it is seasonal and after six months the workers leave for their homes. The factory owners have sent the children to school at Harisiddhi, but the children were not regular because the parents felt going to school was very far and they did not want them to go alone. The parents want their children in front of them working and earning money.
In fact, children love to work with their parents rather than study. They get paid well working on daily wages. The parents are happy to make their children work for money despite of their age. If any kinds of accidents are encountered, the community leaders demand money; from which the diseased get only a few percentage and the rest will be kept by them. To avoid such losses, factory owners want children to go to school or attend informal education classes.
During the survey, the owners of brick factory raised questions like whether it is possible to guarantee the safety of children, facility of pick up and drop, to place education center nearby, how well the parents are convinced and motivated etc.
It can be analyzed that the factory are not sure whether the children will participate in the program. It is very clear that the family needs to be convinced to send their children or not.