Out Of Brick Kiln, Not Out Of School

Out Of Brick Kiln, Not Out Of School

Monu (13) and Sonu (11), two brothers, were working in a brick kiln with their parents. They would have continued working and would be pushed permanently into child labour had it not been for our community mobilisers who have been tracking out of school children and enrolling them in schools.

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The two brothers, along with their parents Subhash and Sanjeet, have been staying and working at the brick kiln in Bharana village for the last two years. They had arrived from a neighbouring Sardhana village in the same Daurala block in Meerut. They had dropped out of school during the lockdown in 2020 and simply never got back to either studies or school. Instead they have been working at the kiln for the last 2 years. 

Last year, Oxfam India mapped out of school children in 104 panchayats of six districts in Uttar Pradesh; 824 children were identified. Among identified children, 5% children were formal child labour. Our team has been running Mohalla Classes to ensure that no child is left behind and is subsequently enrolled in schools.

Our team connected with Monu and Sonu; it turned out that they had given their class 4th and 3rd exams last in 2020. We met with the parents for nearly four to five times but they were not convinced about sending their children to school. They refused to get them admitted in a school and continued to make them work at the kiln along with them.

We then took the school teacher with us to help counsel the parents. We also realised that since the boys hadn't been in a school in the last 2 years that they were hesitant to go back to school and not confident if they would be able to read and write or catch up with the others. We counselled the brothers together and separately. The teacher spoke to them too. The teacher managed to convince the parents and the children too started showing keen interest to get back to school. 

Both Monu and Sonu have now been enrolled in Middle School Bharana in class 5th and 4th respectively. We have, over the last few months, managed to get nearly 15-20 children from brick kilns enrolled in schools. Both the brothers go to school daily now. There are regular follow ups by our community mobiliser to ensure that they are not lagging behind in school or/and if they need any help with studies. While Bharana is not their home village and they are likely to go back to their village at some point of time, this has ensured that once they return the boys will continue their studies and continue going to schools. 

While Monu and Sonu did not attend the bridge classes, we have been running Mohalla/bridge classes to bridge learning gap among children and mainstreaming them in nearby government schools. In these classes 894 children who were at the risk of getting drop out or out of school have been enrolled. Oxfam India trying to fight inequality by working on accessing public services like education and health among marginalised section of children.

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