It was the previous week.
It was Week 1 of my Nepalese adventure and my first week at CONCERN’s office. So many new smells, new words, new tastes and faces. As expected, I got lost several times, Bijaya told me I looked too much like a tourist, I tasted the famous curd from Bhaktapur added to chiurra (it’s delicious!) and I was again approached by a local hash dealer but this time (oh joy) I was also offered cocaine…
What I want to talk about though, is that an important moment happened last Tuesday, exactly one week ago, for the global fights against child labour.
Each year on June 12th, people around the world are highlighting the devastating condition of child labourers during this International Day Against Child Labour. The goal is of course to raise concern about Children’s Rights and about how to develop and implement solutions to stop their plight. It’s quite ironic, that the Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 is the most ratified Convention in the world (from the 193 states recognized by the UN, only the US did not ratify the treaty), but that child labour remains present in so many countries!
CONCERN is experiencing one program to eradicate child labour in brick factories from the Kathmandu valley. They work with 7 brick factories and 7 schools. Teachers and headmasters have been keen to receive these children against funding, and participating brick owners have been open to change.
We went to Bhaktapur where CONCERN supports three schools. We visited two of them to submit the checks covering the school fees: the Dattaraya School and the Saraswati School, where 10 and 3 children respectively are funded by CONCERN.
There is not free primary or secondary education like in France, Germany or the US. In Nepal, parents need to pay for the education of their child from class 1 (more or less 6 years old– depending on their level in school) onwards. Thus, many poor families, of whom some have also lost their home in the 2015 earthquake, are not able to fulfil the financial requirements of the education system. That’s where CONCERN is helping them, in paying school fees for children that used to work in brick kilns with the agreement of their parents. The checks cover admission fees, sanitary, exam fees, uniform and shoes, for a total of $140 per child a year.
Since the 50 children program started in 2014, there have been a few drop-outs by children supported by CONCERN. However, it is critical for the wellbeing of the child to continue to go to school, as it is one of their fundamental rights and because it will gradually enable to break the circle of child labour through education. Drop-outs are majorly related to the family’s migration to another place, to a lack of awareness regarding the benefits of education, and simply because of ongoing poverty with the consequence that sending children at school prevents them from earning a few rupees a day.
To avoid this kind of situation in the future, CONCERN worked on an mutual agreement form between parents and CONCERN about their child’s enrolment in school. It stipulates that if parents interrupt the 5-years support program, or if they continue to let their children work before or after school, they would have to pay back the annual fees. According to CONCERN, fearing the repayment would decrease the number of drop-outs and enable the supported children to go to school for at least the 5 years covered by the program.
If that solution works out, if the children do well at school, if they have been completely rescued from the kilns, and last but not least, if they are happy and healthy, you may discover it in my next posts! I will be visiting schools supported by CONCERN over the next few weeks and will come back with many stories and (hopefully) children’s smiles.
And for those who read that blog to the end, here’s a little surprise: the children from Dattaraya School singing the Nepali national anthem called “Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka” (Made of Hundreds of Flowers). I needed to cut the file because of its too large format, so there is only the beginning and the end. But it is nice!
Posted By Lara Cerosky (Nepal)
Posted Jun 19th, 2018