Benaroshi Anandadhara School

Benarashi Ananda Dhara School  works with boy child laborers employed in hazardous condition in Benarasi Saree factories and girl child laborers working in karchupi work (hand stitch embroidery work on cloth), thonga making (paper packaging materials for grocery shop use) and beli (artificial flower made by paper) production. Benarashi Ananda Dhara School  aims at increasing the awareness on child rights and reduce the future numbers of child labourers in working area.

To motivate the child laborers, the participating children in the education programme  are compensated for their income loss arising from attending the school. The job hours of the children be reduced. They are also enjoying  greater scope of participation. At the same time, 1000 parents/ guardians and around 300 entrepreneurs are sensitized on the issue of child rights leading to an improvement of child-right situation in the target area. But the real achievement of the project lies in the positional shifting of the children (age between 7-17) from workers to student. They are primarily utilizing the work places as skill gathering outlets. The primary health assistance plays a role in improving the health situation. In this regard increased knowledge on health and hygiene rules plays a crucial role and leave a long lasting positive impact. The project not only expand the participation of the children, but by the virtue of Community Committee also enhance the space of community participation. The change in work environment and organization also benefits future recruits. While the change in the attitude of the parents and entrepreneurs (as a result of the project) regarding child rights in general and child education (those under 17) in specific, improves the position of the child within the community.

INCIDIN Bangladesh believes in sustainable development through peoples’ empowerment and emancipation both at economic and political spheres. The key word in development for the organization is participation and ownership of people. INCIDIN Bangladesh and the project are working for an integrated child development centre in community level with the participation of stakeholders. INCIDIN Bangladesh organization is not a mere tool but organization of establishing, ensuring, and importantly, entertaining emancipation.

Benarashi Ananda Dhara School  focus problem to be addressed is: Marginalized children of the Behari refugee community of Mirpur area are engaged in hazardous child labour. It is identified that this problem violet the CRC article 32, 28 and 29.1(a). These violations create a situation of exploitation to the children, keep them away from education, and obstruct development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. This problem is also associated with other violation of article no. 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 24, 27(3), 30, and 31. From the previous experience INCIDIN found that girl children in the community were more neglected than boys in terms of education, nutrition intake and access to health services. They also have to carry heavier workload doing household and earning jobs together. INCIDIN has incorporated these groups of girl children to the program to humanize their situation. In the traditional outlook and approach to the children, there are both positive and negative aspects. We have to uphold the relevant positive traditional values and correct the negative ones. Children do not like physical punishment upon them, but at the same time many children believe that there is no alternative than punishment if a child doesn’t behave properly. So, Benarashi Ananda Dhara School  has to try to change the child related negative values and therefore, in the project specific awareness activities alternative to physical and humiliating punishment has been incorporated. Lesson learnt from 1st & 2nd phase project experience shows that prioritizing the issue of education could develop child right situation in the area gradually along with awareness, advocacy and other child focused initiatives in line with CRP principles. Development objectives and immediate objectives of the project were set to cope with the violations of rights according to the CRP principles.

Planned outputs:
  1. Access to survival & development services has been ensured for child labourers
  2. Children’s capacity has been strengthened to understand and claim their rights
  3. Parents, guardians, employers and community people have become more responsible towards child rights
  4. Linkage and networking have been strengthened with likeminded organizations
  5. Community based sustainability plan has been developed.
  6. Institutional and organizational capacity has been developed.
Organization/project implementation:

The executive power of INCIDIN Bangladesh is vested upon the Executive Committee (EC). The EC provides group leadership by having three Executive Directors with the responsibilities of heads of the organization. The Executive Directors are accountable to the Board. The projects have its own management system. All the project staffs are responsible for programs through participatory program planning and implementation in every level.

One Executive Director of INCIDIN Bangladesh will be the in-charge of the project and will act as Project Director. He will be responsible for the policy making and planning of the programme with the participation of children and project staffs. Project Director will supervise the overall activities of the project to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the programme as well as smooth management of the project. All the staff will be responsible for the day-to-day administrative and functional project activates. The project will maintain the books of accounts following the procedure of SCSD and the NGO Bureau. Yearly action plan will be prepared and budget will be followed up accordingly.

To ensure the support for the project one committee will be formed. The committees will be known as Community Committee. The community committee will be responsible to motivate the community to support the project and safeguard the center and the personnel and target group from any subversive attempt.

This phase project is based on the previous experiences of INCIDIN Bangladesh. The implementation strategy of the project will be both Preventive and Curative is discussed below. Of course many of the direct curative activities will have a preventive aspect as well:

a)         Non-Formal Education Programme:
300 children will learn in the NFE centre for next 2 years with enough motivation, inspiration and competency. These students will follow Non-formal education of BRAC/UCEP/National Curriculum and textbook board books. Daily two hours schooling will be provided in two shifts, in four classes in each shift with the aid of seven teachers for five days a week. The total course will be for two years. The school will be located with in the target area (in a rented house).

b)         Primary Health cares:
INCIDIN Bangladesh will co-ordinate with other NGOs and facilitate medical assistance to the child laborers. Initiatives will be taken to provide the 300 target child laborers with regular general medical check-up and provide them with some basic medical assistance by coordinating with like-minded NGOs and other voluntary organizations. The partial medicine cost will be borne by the project. This way access will be created for the child laborers with the existing medical facilities of other like-minded NGOs.

c)         Recreational Activities:
The life of the child laborers is very much monotonous, because the trade is very much specialised and they have to perform the same kind of job days after days only to keep their body and soul together. So the recreational activities (sports/games/cultural activities etc.) are much more desirable to them. Any successful project of non-formal education of child laborers must assure entertainment through recreational activities. The recreational activities will be organized both inside and outside the class. This will provide the children not only opportunities of entertainment but also to enhance their creative faculties and provide them opportunities of learning through entertainment.

d)         Compensation/stipend:
The non-formal education programme to provide education and message on child right. Monthly compensation of Tk. 275.00 will be paid as stipend to per month per children to the families of the target child laborers to compensate for the loss of income arising by participating in the non-formal education programme and thereby to induce and attract them to send their children to the non-formal education centre. This compensation is not merely a material incentive; the compensation is also necessary to ensure that the poverty situation is not aggravated by the implementation of the education programme.

e)         Child Participation:
The teachers and motivators will make the children aware of their rights and authority in determining the class activities. This will create an enabling environment for the children to put forward their opinions and plan how the class will be conducted, class routine, school time, class work. This will continue all through the project duration in quarterly teacher teachers-student meeting (or in need based especial sessions the involvement of the children with Children’s Club will also enhance the role and abilities of the children to participate in centre and community activities.

f)         Group Discussion and Awareness Building on UNCRC:
The group discussion will be one of the major means of disseminating information to the target group. Through group discussions the target group (comprised of the 300 child laborers, their parents and factory owners) will acquire knowledge about the following topics:
–           The Child rights in general and the content of UNCRC, in specific,
–           Importance of education and child rights.

g)         Creating linkage with the Mainstream:
The activities at the centre will work as a moral boost for the children. They in time may become more confident in exploring the possibilities in the mainstream. Moreover, by mingling with the Bengali children at different events and in Children’s Club the children will create a Bengali peer support group, which will also contribute in bridging the gap between these children with the mainstream. Moreover, the linkage with health service providers will also broaden the access of these children in the existing institutional facilities.

h)         Preserving Ethnic Identity:
The child laborers of Benarasi Saree factories are Beharies. The native language of these children is Urdu. Therefore the newly enrolled children will need additional time to deal with the language barrier. In the first year the children will be given extra attention to teach Bengali so that they can use the education materials, which are mostly in Bengali. The children will be taught in Bengali medium because otherwise they will not have any chance of getting involved in the mainstream. However, the children will also be given an opportunity to have literacy in Urdu language so that they can preserve their cultural heritage. To achieve these objectives and to ensure proper communication between the teachers and students, the teachers of the education centre will be recruited mainly from within the Behari community so that the teachers have the proper fluency in Urdu speaking and writing.

Social sustainability:

In Bangladesh, development lacks the undertone `sustainability’. Because of unplanned development endeavors cause menace to environment. However, it is apparent that annihilation of environment for the sake of development should be stopped because development in its actual sense is sustainable development. However, determining areas of focus- whether organizational sustainability or sustainability of program or services- had been an area of debate. So INCIDIN Bangladesh believes in the development that meets the need for the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs.

INCIDIN Bangladesh expects that at the end of the project period:

  • 300 child labourers received non-formal education. Among them 100 boy child labourers continued from 1st phase project received non-formal education up to class eight equivalents, 50 girl child labourers continued from gap-bridging period received non-formal education up to class five equivalents, another 50 girls received non-formal education up to class four equivalents and 50 girl child labourers newly enrolled in 2005 received non-formal education up to class three equivalents. All of them received massage and awareness on CRC.
  • Health care facilities for 300 child labourers working in Benarashi Saree factories, Karchupi work, Beli and Thonga manufacturing sector increased.
  • Awareness on child labour problems, CRC and need of education and health issues among parents/guardians, employers and community people improved.
  • The capacity of the project staff improved.
  • Participation of children in recreational activities and project and centre management ensured.
  • Participation of the community people in project and centre management ensured.
  • Networking has been established for better performance and greater voice.
  • The children, their parents, the employers and the local community as such will be aware of children’s rights and the problems of child labour, which in the long run will contribute to reduce exploitation on the child labourers in the areas.

Duration of the proposed project will be two years. The problem of child labour, existing in the Benarasi Saree factories, Karchupi, Beli and Thonga manufacturing and other informal sector may not be resolved altogether within the two years duration of the proposed project. However, child right situation for the child labourers in the area will develop.

They will also enjoy greater scope of participation. At the same time, 1000 parents/ guardians and entrepreneurs of 300 child labourers will be sensitized on the issue of child rights leading to an improvement of child-right situation in the target area. But real achievement of the project lies in the positional shifting of the children from workers to student. With the help of the project the children will become `working students’. They will primarily utilize the work places as skill gathering outlets. Primary health assistance will also play a role in improving the health situation. In this regard increased knowledge on health and hygiene rules will play a crucial role and leave a long lasting positive impact.

Community participation will also enhance through the Community Committee. Change in the attitude of the parents and entrepreneurs (as a result of the project) regarding child rights in general and child education in specific will improve the position of the children within the community.

However, proposed project is the 3rd phase of INCIDIN Bangladesh’s child labour emancipation programme designed for the Benarasi sector. INCIDIN Bangladesh believes that to meaningfully expand the choice of child labourers via education, the children should enjoy access to education, up to the level that will enable them to win certification from the formal education establishment. This way education may create alternate employment opportunity and also scope of higher education. Therefore INCIDIN Bangladesh plans to provide the children from previous project phase of Benarasi, Karchupi, Beli and Thonga sector with access over further education in its programme:

1/1 2006 -31/12 2007 Period:            2 years: education equivalent to class VIII level for the children of Benerasi Saree factories enrolled from the previous project phase. At the same time, in this project phase 50 girls will have 2 years education equivalent to class V level, 50 girls will have 2 years education equivalent to class IV level and 50 girls and 50 boys newly enrolled in 2005 from Benarasi Saree factories, Karchupi, Beli and Thonga manufacturing sector will have 2 years education equivalent to class III level. In the next phases these children could also advance for relatively higher level of education.

Thus within the next 2 years of the proposed project phase, substantial advancement will be made both in terms of situation and position of the children, and more importantly, prospect will be created to launch further programms. After successful completion of this third phase project a fourth phase project will be needed to carryout the development objective and consolidate overall achievements and to create practical arrangements and systems to take over the programme by the community.

Outcome of project will be sustained:

  • Through the children benefited or influenced by the programme in achieving education, participation, development and empowerment in-built among themselves;
  • Through the in-built child friendly awareness and developed behaviour empowered parents, guardians and the community were capacitated or influenced through the project.
  • Positive results achieved through the advocacy activities of the project.

Lessons learned/strategy issues:

  • Maximum flexibility is needed in preparing and implementing a child rights based project.
  • Child labourers overall capacity as human being is progressing with their level of competencies in education.
  • To build up child friendly social condition, awareness and advocacy should be in an innovative way compatible with the issue, area, situation, community and the people.
  • Child labourers could develop themselves being provided with an environment of non-discrimination, child friendly policies, initiatives and child rights programming.
  • Children’s Club has become an important component of the project developing children’s initiative and participation.
  • Children who are borrowing and reading books from the Children’s Club library are learning well.
  • Time is very important factor for the child labourers. Child labourers should be capacitated and empowered with enabling better time management for their progressive development.
  • Family environment should be reoriented enabling child rights in the family with democratization and participation of children and women in the family.
  • Children are the integral part of the society and that’s why development of child right situation directly or indirectly becomes interrelated with other social, political and economic rights situation in the society. It’s to some extent difficult to advance the child right situation too far in isolation or bypassing the human rights situation and women rights situation.
  • To cover up all the child labourerers or most of the child labourers of Bangladesh in educational programme, non-formal education programme is needed to establish linkage with some open schooling system recognized by the Government creating scope for the child labourers to get certified qualitative basic education in different phases that can link them with mainstream secondary, higher secondary and vocational education. In Bangladesh we should do advocacy for that.
  • In the traditional outlook and approach to the children, there are both positive and negative aspects. Positive aspects are in line with CRC but negative aspects are contrary. So, we have to uphold the relevant positive traditional values and correct the negative ones and it should be done globally. The entire child focused organizations and projects should do that so that gradually a global change could over run the negative values.
  • Adults are care givers and duty bearers and the children are right holders. Both have definite roles in CRC which are interrelated and inter dependent. Naturally adults experience, maturity, capacity and responsibility are more. At the same time children’s opinion and active participation is important. In child rights programming and implementation adults and children’s roles should be positively complementary and supportive to each other, though main role and responsibility obviously remains to the adults.
  • Education is the key-link to organize and mobilize the child labourers. Generally, child labourers position in the society is marginalized and vulnerable and they are detached from the mainstream social currents. Educational intervention can make a bridge for their social mainstreaming and asserting their rights.
  • Some times some people amalgamate child labourers with drop-out children from general school systems, unruly or out of discipline children etc. But most of the child labourers are not like that. Generally they don’t get the opportunity and time to go to school. Instead of school they have to go to the factories or workplace. If they know the importance of education in that case also they have no alternative. It is difficult for them to solve their life cycle equation with the factors of opportunity, time, wage, money and family need. Generally they remain completely out of the education system of the country. But they could have an urge for education or it could be created and they could be involved in educational process through creating an enabling opportunity and environment for them. Through linking up them with the education they could come in touch with CRC claim and implementation process.
  • INCIDIN Bangladesh plans up to eight class level education for the children through the continuation of this project. After finishing that level of education multiple options would be open up to them; they could be able to go for further studies along with their work through distance study programme of Open University without any regular class; if they don’t want to go for further studies at that level they could be able to go for relatively higher technology based vocational training. At the same time if they like, they also could stay in their present trade in a higher position and better job condition with their accumulated skill, educational capability and social empowerment.
  • Class VIII level education is minimum requirement for further studies of these children through linking up with the distance study programme of Open University. Some body could ask how many children will go for further studies but in this stage number is not important. Real importance belongs to open up a new horizon of alternatives in the life of child labourers including education and development. Might be that initially a few child labourers would go for newly harnessed alternatives. But their success would obviously influence others to change their course of life.
  • Those children who want to go for vocational education or training, class eight level educations would open up a great opportunity to them, as because in Bangladesh it is the basic minimum requirement to enter for most of the modern technology based skills.
  • At the same time, in Bangladesh for relatively better jobs except the ordinary ones in most of the cases class VIII level education is asked as minimum requirement. So these levels of education would provide a greater and better access to the children in the job market and in the society as a whole. Our neighboring Indian state West Bengal Government also enacted the law of compulsory education up to class VIII level for the children. We should be act on educational policy for the child labourers, to explore and open up equal opportunity it is needed to make some examples to influence the stakeholders.
  • Providing stipend has a contribution to a sustainable method enabling the child laboureres to get education and to be rights oriented with the progress of time through compensating their income loss a little bit and contribute to the development of the child labourers, their family and the community. When the project will reach to a sustainable position in future they will be able to go for education without stipend. Benarasi child labourers are not simply poor; they are in a condition of below poverty line. These child labourers have a significant portion of contribution to their family income. But with these child labour also, they have not able to come out of the cycle of below poverty line yet. Practically they are struggling for the survival. Stipend policy to these children is based on all these factors. It’s not a mere charity or need based approach; it’s their right in their struggle for survival and development. Child labourers could claim this right and all the duty bearers should be obliged to fulfil it.
  • Role of adults in CRC programming and implementation should be appropriate. Generally children are introduced with world through the adults. Children and the adults both should supplement each other in CRC programming and implementation according to their capacity and maturity and that should not be mechanical but with organic harmony. In Bangladesh child labourers are generally from the marginalized section of the society and educated adult professionals are generally from the middle or upper class. Of course educated adult professionals could have some skill. But if they couldn’t feel equality and integrity and responsibility to this section of people and children, it is difficult for them to work for the best interest of these child labourers.
  • In Bangladesh, there are lot of discrimination among the various sections of people and the different sections of children. In global arena also there are lots of discriminations. Gradually we have to try to come out of this discriminatory situation and should act for equal standard of rights for all the children.
  • Indivisibility and universality of CRC should be viewed and practiced in project programming and implementation for non-discrimination of children and for equal standard of rights for all the children of the world.
  • Bangladesh is a least developed but over populated country and it got independence in December 1971 and still governing authority has a lot of limitations. So along with advocating to the Government all the stakeholders related to the child issues should come forward to save the children of Bangladesh with increased responsibility and accountability.
  • For fruitful and sustainable outputs, project design should be child rights based. But right based doesn’t mean only the advocacy activities. Projects for the children should internalize and adapted with the indivisibility and universality of CRC. All levels of duty bearers should be made accountable for CRC implementation. Government as signatory in CRC should be primarily responsible for CRC implementation. But child issue is not a matter of Government only. Child issues are the matters of family, community, social institutions, educational and cultural institutions, civil societies, NGO’s, national and international authorities and all the adults of the world and they responsibility and accountability towards the children.
  • We should try to implement CRC holistically for the child labourers of the project and we also have to fulfill our responsibility and acountability as duty bearers.
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