Once a den of child labour and
exploitation, a few brick kilns here in North 24 Parganas district have turned
into playschool and vocational training centres for children.
Located on the outskirts of Kolkata, BBF II
and RKM brick kiln units here have become role models after the brick kiln
owners, teachers, Panchayat members and child rights activists came together to
establish multi-purpose centres for underprivileged children of labourers.
Md Khursid Alam, one of the owners of the
land where the brick kiln unit is set up, says after realising that he could
play an important role in building the future of poor children he allowed the
construction of the centre on his land.
In a child-friendly environment within the
kiln, the centre provides facilities for early childhood care and development,
education and pre-vocational training to children and teenagers.
“For toddlers it is a playschool, creche
and nutritional centre. For grown-ups it is a classroom while the young adults
get vocational training on tailoring,” the brick-kiln owner said.
The multi-purpose centres are owned and run
by the community with funding from international NGO Save the Children.
Children were also engaged in different games to develop communicative,
manipulative, physical and cognitive skills.
Another 16 children were enrolled in
government schools enabling them access to quality elementary education after a
meeting with parents, teachers and brick kiln owners at Chouhata Free Primary
School in Shalipur Panchayat, Haroa.
The Right to Education Act 2009 mandates
free and compulsory education to children aged between 6 to 14 years.
Once notorious for exploiting children in
semi-hazardous conditions, these brick kilns units are turning out to be role
model for all others in the unorganised industry.