Child Lead Organization

Non-formal Basic Education and Healthcare Programme for the Child Labourers in Mirpur, Dhaka- Child led Organization and Advocacy on Child Labour


The project titled ‘Non-formal Basic Education and Healthcare Programme for the Child Labourers in Mirpur, Dhaka- Child led Organization and Advocacy on Child Labour’’ is the continuation of a bigger project “Non-formal Basic Education and Healthcare Programme for the Child Labourers in Mirpur, Dhaka and a part of the overall child labour theme. The project started in January 2006 and will end in September 2008.  The project is located in the rehabilitation settlement camps for the Bihari refugee camps in Mirpur, Dhaka in Bangladesh. INCIDIN Bangladesh is implementing the project as a partner of SCSD.

Objectives of the project

Development Objective: Less children forced to work under hazardous conditions or conditions that prevent their physical, moral or social development.

Immediate Objectives

1. Children have enhanced their capabilities to organise themselves and to engage in advocacy activities.

2. The children’s advocacy and awareness raising have influenced authorities, civil society, media, political parties and private sector to engage in reducing hazardous labour and improve the living conditions for children.

3. Methods for organising children labourers and for ensuring the participation of children labourers in activities concerning their own lives have been developed, tested, shared and applied.

Contextual Analysis at project level

Bangladesh has a population of 140 million people, of which 65 million are children. The majority of the population is very poor with 35 % of the population living below one US dollar a day.

Child labour could be considered as the most important child rights issue in Bangladesh, given the very large number of children and linkages with other rights violations. There are various estimates of child labour in Bangladesh, ranging between 6 million and 20 million, based on different methodology and definitions and they are found both in rural and urban areas and especially within the informal sector.

Because of poverty, lack of knowledge on the harmful effects of child labour and child’s rights many poor parents engage their children in labour for supplementing family income. Furthermore the employers often prefer children since they are cheaper and easier to handle than adults are and finally
Child labourers are facing several problems. They are deprived of their childhood and they are often working very long hours under hazardous working conditions, which represent a threat towards their physical and mental health.

Children’s participation is very limited at all stages of society. Children are not heard in their families, at schools nor at their working places. In general, children do not have any influence in decisions regarding their own life. They do not have a space in society where they can mature to become active and informed citizens influencing their own lives.

Moreover, CRC article 32, 28 and 29(a) along with article no. 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 24, 27(3), 30, and 31 are being violated in the area.

Child Labour in Mirpur, Dhaka:

Mirpur is in the northern part of Dhaka City. In the Mirpur, there are many settlements of Biharis  are living in overcrowded slum areas without any basic services like water supply, sanitation and garbage disposal arrangements underneath very difficult circumstances. Most of these people are illiterate and work as daily wage labourers. Usually, the male adults are engaged both in jori and benarasi saree factories as daily wage labourers and in petty business. The female adults are engaged as daily wage labourers in karchupi, thonga and beli production units and jori and benarasi factories. Most of their children are engaged in benarasi saree factories and in karchupi work, thonga making and beli production units. There are at least 21 informal sectors productions in Mirpur in which the children are engaged as labourers In the Jori (Embroidery) and Benarasi Saree factory.

The beneficiary children mostly reside in the slums of Mirpur, Dhaka and work in or around those areas. The scope of getting education for free is scarce and those existing nearby do not suit their socio-economic needs and life style. Most of the parents of the target beneficiaries are illiterate. Besides, inadequate facilities in the project area are also the reason for illiteracy of the target people.

The child labourers of Benarasi Saree factories of Mirpur, Dhaka, are mostly illiterate and  have only received traditional religious education from their families.

The children in the Bihari Camps in Mirpur, Dhaka are suffering from socio-cultural environment that reduces the mainstream Bengali children’s scope of participation to a minimal level both at family and community level. The basic features of this subjugation include:

  • Lack of participation of the children from everyday life to policy level decisions that concern their wellbeing.
  • Loss of opportunities on the parts of the children to develop their self-identity and self-esteem because of an adverse power-relationship existing between the adults and children.
  • The children are isolated at community level from their Bengali child-neighbors. They are also lacking the space and facilities those are available to their Bengali-neighbors in terms of forming organizations or participating in events.
  • Being refugees, the Bihari children are not having equal access to social and community infrastructures (such as playing grounds etc.) and lack scope of participating in the national events, government led activities and within the mainstream Bengali civil society activities and children’s organizations (such as Shishu Academy etc.).
  • The workload reduces the scope of the children in participating in games, entertainment, education and other creative and developmental activities which are integral parts of the rights defined in the UN Convention on Children’s Rights.

Within this context, the girls in the Bihari communities suffer yet another round of discrimination and rights-violation. The conservative social environment reduces the girls’ mobility and visibility. This creates a cultural divide that separates the girls from the boys and further reduces their space.

Justification of the Project

The proposed project idea is built upon the organizational and knowledge base of promoting child participation through the two consecutive phases of the on-going project involving the Bihari children engaged in Benarashi saree factories.

For combating child labour, there is a great need for focusing more on children’s own knowledge, resources, experiences and perceptions of their life situation. This project will be an opportunity to apply a child participatory approach in order to reach children engaged in child labour.

The children are participating in the Anadha Dhara center that give them access to education and other knowledge building resources. The children are also participating in Children’s Club; which promotes their scope of participation and child to child interaction.

The experience of Children’s Club has revealed that:
  • The children has a need of peer interaction and peer level collective activities
  • The children welcome all the initiatives that provide them with empowerment and resource to explore their individual and collective potentialities.
  • The children are happy to set up their own organization (e.g. the children’s club at the project) when they are finding themselves in the roles of decision makers

As an organization working with the children, INCIDIN Bangladesh has learnt that the essential precondition of facilitating and promoting children’s self-organization is to institutionalize the value of participation. In other words, the role of adults has to be reduced in that of a facilitator.

The other in-sights gained by INCIDIN Bangladesh with regard to child led organization include:
  • The child led organizations have no reason to take the same formation of those idealized by adults
  • The process of facilitating child led organization means that there can be no preconceived model that the children should follow in shaping their own organizations
  • The values, objectives, priorities and concerns of the facilitating organizations can be shared with the children but the process of sharing should be non-authoritarian so that the children are only given information and are not instructed.

The scope and goal of facilitating child led organization should be primarily focused on empowering the children with their own organization and must not be seen as a mere instrument to bring about some other developmental objective valued by the facilitating organization.

The existing project has now created a rich pool of experience on scopes and needs of child-participation. The experience of the project reveals:
  • The children are contributing in developing project plan
  • The children are also participating more visibly at the project activities
  • The children are monitoring the classroom level performance of project staff which for then is an empowering experience
  • The participation process is leading to a greater ownership of the children on the project space, resources, planning and activities

INCIDIN Bangladesh consciously involved the children as well as the community members with the project as the children are not passive are not only source of information but are also source of knowledge. INCIDIN Bangladesh proves that the aspect of child participation is also essential for any project that addresses the issues concerning the rights of the children.

Beneficiaries and Target group

The project area is located in the rehabilitation settlement camps for the Bihari refugee known as `Cantonment Camp’ or `Kurmitola Camp’, Bogra Camp, Gofur Bosti, Murapara Camp, Kalapani School Camp, section no. 12, ward no. 2, Mirpur, Dhaka. Relatively abundance of child laborers of Benarasi Saree, Karchupi work, Beli and Thonga producing sector influences the selection of the area.
Thus the Child-led Organization activities promoting child participation will cover 1,500 to 2000 (15 groups) girls and boys that are child laborers will be priorities and other children of the areas of Mirpur section#12, Dhaka within the age range of 18 years.

Most of the children of the project area are child labourers. So, naturally child labour issues will be addressed and child labourers will lead the organization.

Expected Outputs
  • Child led organizations of 1,500 to 2000 children, mainly child labourers (15 groups) in Mirpur Dhaka formed.
  • Vision building participatory planning of the child led organizations completed
  • Capacity of around 100 child facilitators and child animators so that a half of them are girls is strengthened.
  • Events and routine activities of the organized 1,500 to 2000 children carried out as per their planning
  • Linkage among different child led organization is built
  • Support network of civil society actors for the child led organization formed
  • The lessons learned of the processes is collated, consolidated and disseminated on continual basis.
  • Greater acceptance of children’s participation at the family and community level.
  • Self-initiative of children regarding literacy and education strengthen

To attain the above mentioned objectives and expected outputs, the project will undertake the following activities:

  • Formation of Facilitation Team: A team of five facilitators will be formed to facilitate 250 children within each of the groups, subgroups based on children interest.
  • Facilitating the children:  The major role of the facilitators will be to carryout consultations with the children and later with the child organizations. They will also carryout participation process within and among the child organizations.
  • Consultation with other stakeholders: The facilitators will also continue consultation with the broader stakeholder groups such as the parents, employers, employees association, community leaders and NGOs etc.
  • Facilitating an interactive planning process: The facilitators will initiate a participatory process among children for developing their own vision, structure, norms, rules and strategy of their organizations.
  • Supporting the activities of Child led Organizations: The facilitators will provide the children with accompaniment as per their designs and needs to carryout their activities.
  • Capacity Building of the Child Facilitators: To ensure sustainability of the child organizations, the project will develop 100 child facilitators and animators.
  • Linked to direct service: This will include cost of special services (this may include meeting cost and meeting needs of vulnerable children) to be provided to children.
  • Linkage of information components: This information activities  the linkage between Children in Sweden-Denmark and Bangladesh.
  • Literacy, education and livelihood: The facilitators will assist the children to address the issues (in form of advocacy, linkage and awareness building) concerning literacy, education and livelihood issues of child labourers through CLO according to the priorities, perspectives and capacities of the concerned children.
  • Building broader networking: The facilitator will facilitate interaction and linkage at two levels: first, among the different child organizations and secondly, with other civil society organizations including NGOs.
  • Documenting and disseminating lessons learned: The experience and findings of the consultative process and the organization building process will be synthesized. In this knowledge building process the children will be active in providing information and analyses.
  • Reporting: The project will prepare half-annual and annual reports on the progress of work through active participation of the children.

Sustainability and phase out strategy

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

Participatory Strategic Planning (PSP) is a strategic planning method where the children will collectively analyze their local context to identify their areas of concerns/problems and to formulate their Vision, Mission, Role, Objectives and Strategy for future and design forms of their desired organizations.

In this process:
  • The children will actively take part in analyzing the outputs of the consultations from their own perspective.
  • The child-perspective as a framework of reference would emerge and put in placed.
  • The children will be the true owner and user of the outputs and outcomes

Monitoring Mechanism:

The children will be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of the project through their own groups and representation in Project Management Committee. The children’s groups will share their monitoring information to the project coordinator on routine basis. This will ensure a bottom up flow of monitoring data. At the same time through their representation in the Project Management Committee the children will also have access to oversee the outcomes of the monitoring data.