Community-based Child Labour Monitoring System rescues Bangladesh’s future teachers

Implemented by the CSO, the Eco-Social Development Organization (ESDO), the project has identified several children who dropped out of school to work hazardous jobs to support their families.

Nishikanto, 12, is one of such children. He was born into a family of intergenerational poverty and economic hardship in the village of Modho Baliadangi, Baliadangi Upazila in Thakurgaon district.

His father was the sole breadwinner for the family of seven working in a local engineering workshop. He however suffered a major stroke 5 years ago that paralyzed one side of his body such that he could no longer work. He could not even afford medical treatment resulting in his death in February 2022.

This brought Nishikanto’s education to an abrupt stop. Despite his family’s penury, Nishikanto attended school regularly and was a brilliant student. When his father died, he dropped out and started working at an engineering shop to help provide for his family’s basic needs.

This was where ESDO found him while undertaking a baseline survey on child labour between August and September 2022. He narrated the grim details of his struggling life tearfully expressing his desire to return to school. “I was very keen to study and complete my schooling but when my father died, I could not continue.”

The project helped him get a sponsor to cover his education costs, and admission at Biplob Memorial School, where he is now happily in class seven. He wants to be a teacher when he grows up.
His mother was connected to a livelihood development training initiative run by the CSO’s REVIVE (Resilience to Economic Volatility of Indigenous and Vulnerable population through Empowerment) project. She was given seed money (Tk. 9000 = USD 83) to purchase a goat and she also works as a day labourer to make extra income to meet her family needs.

Md. Sabbir Islam, 10, is another boy rescued from child labour and sent back to school. He lives in, Ranishankail. He was in class two at Ranisankail Hafizia Madrasha, Nayanpur during the prolonged COVID-19 school closures but had to drop out because his father could no longer afford the Tk 200 (USD 1.84) monthly tuition fee.

Sabbir’s family was extremely poor, without land to even put up a home. His father worked as a day labourer in people’s homes but when COVID-19 struck, his work decreased, and he also began to fall ill. His income could no longer cover the family expenses.

Sabbir joined his father to work in brick kilns, where he would spend the day breaking bricks for a pay of Tk 70-80 (USD 0.644-0.736) per day. The work was very difficult, and he didn’t like it. But if he did not work for a day, his family would not have food. Every day after work, his mother would heat oil to massage his hurting hands and feet.

However, in September 2022, his life took a turn for the better when ESDO visited his place of work and explained to him the dangers of child labour to his health and his future. He told them he wanted to go back to school. “If they admit me back to school then I want to study again.”

His parents agreed to let Sabbir return to school. He was admitted to Ranishankail Shishu Kalyan Government Primary School in class four and is studying towards becoming a teacher.

ESDO helped his mother to take a tailoring course offered by the Directorate of Women Affairs and after completion, she was given a sewing machine and Tk12,000 (USD110.4) seed capital to start a sewing business. She now has a steady income from tailoring to cover the family expenses.“We were engaging our child in hazardous work without knowing and understanding the danger of this work. Thanks to ESDO for making us aware of the impacts and getting my child admitted in school again. They have arranged tailoring training for me to generate an income for the family,” she said gratefully.

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