Brickfield Schools Project | India

Brickfield Schools Project

Partner | Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre

Location | Basirat, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India

Overview

Throughout India, there are thousands of brickfields open-air factories where clay bricks are made by hand. Most of the workers are migrants, including children, who spend up to 8 months of the year in the dusty fields in temperatures that can reach 40 degrees. Children come with their families to the brickfields, and most work from 11 years of age. There is no education within the brickfields except in the schools run by the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC) and a few other NGOs.

Since 2008, KMWSC has operated open-air schools for three hours a day for the migrant children living in brickfields on the outskirts of Kolkata. It is difficult for these children to enrol in local government schools due to the migratory nature of this work.

This project delivers education to the children of the seasonal migrant brickfield workers across ten brickfield schools. The project also seeks to increase awareness amongst migrant families about social issues such as child marriage, labour, healthcare, rights and entitlements.

Challenges

Brickfield classes have been adapted to incorporate COVID-19 safety measures, increasing the school day by 30 minutes. Each day, the temperature of every child is taken before class. As per government protocols, children with high temperatures cannot join class, and health action is taken. Seating arrangements in class have also been altered to ensure a minimum of three feet between children.

The establishment of a learning resource centre in the Basirhat area was planned for 2021 to cater to the education, health needs, and life skills development of migrant children. The centre was also to be used to deliver teacher training, health camps and awareness seminars. Unfortunately, the pandemic required funds to be redirected to the urgent needs of the community, particularly the migrant labourers who were unable to return to their homes.

Impact

Brickfield Schools seeks to empower and educate up to 900 migrant children from the brickfields and mainstream them in the formal schooling system, giving each child the best opportunity to break the poverty cycle.

The project uses a holistic approach to child development by providing children with an education as well as supporting their health, physical growth and mental development. It recognises that the social awareness of parents is critical, particularly in the areas of health, education, child rights and safe migration.

Activities
  • Train and develop 20 teachers in curriculum development, teaching methodologies and lesson planning, specific to the brickfield environment.
  • Operate 10 Brickfield Schools with two teachers in each.
  • Celebrate special days like Independence Day, World Day against Human Trafficking, Labour Day and World Environment Day to educate the children and their families.
  • Organise six rights/social issues awareness sessions for parents.
  • Conduct 48 health camps and awareness sessions.
  • Evaluate the school children to assess their knowledge and development throughout the season.
  • Network with NGOs and other institutions to create sustainability of the learning initiatives introduced at the brickfields.

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