This uplifting news comes to us from Odisha, India.
For 800 children of brick kiln laborers from Western Odisha working in Telengana, the distant and faint hope of accessing formal education has happily become a reality.
The collective efforts of the Rachakonda Police Commisionerate, the District Collectors of Yadadri Bhuvangiri and Rangaredddy, the Brick Kiln Owners Association of India and the global non -profit group Aide et Action have made it possible for the children to go back to their homes in Odisha and enroll in Odia medium schools instead of being trapped in the vicious cycle of child labor.
Back in 2016, Aide et Action had begun a small-scale initiative in order to help a few children of migrant brick kiln workers in Telengana to access basic education in and around their parent’s worksites. This small initiative has now spread its wings to become a successful education project which is spread across nine worksite schools.
Operation Smile is a program that was thought up by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government of India and under the auspices of this program, the police department and other government departments coordinate amongst themselves to rescue and rehabilitate children working in hazardous industries. Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat has been especially vigilant.
In one such operation, the police team rescued around 180 children who were working in brick kilns and not going to school. After this operation, the police received a tip-off and rescued another 170 children who were working in brick kilns and were being paid a measly 10,000 rupees for 6 months work.
A total of 16 brick kiln owners were booked under various provisions of the law but the police had to figure out what to do with the 350 children from Odisha. Fortunately, Aide et Action has worksite school models in place and it brought in teacher volunteers, from the home districts of these children to teach them in Odia medium.
After getting booked in many cases where they even could not get bail, the Brick Kiln Owner’s Association approached the police saying that they were ready to take care of the children’s education.
Since January 2017, 2914 children have passed out from these worksite schools with the latest batch being of 774 students. They will, at the end of the academic season be eligible for a grade level transition into Odia medium schools in the next year. Such efforts by the NGO Aide et Action have been facilitated by the cooperation of top cogs in the police force and have made the entire effort worth its while.
Image Source: The Better India