M3 Features

Brick kilns turn schools in Bengal

February 25, 2014

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.

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