A grant from TRAID is enabling Nagorik Uddyog to develop educational and child rights programmes with the children of garment industry workers in Dhaka.
Many parents are lone mothers who have come to Dhaka with their children to seek work. Without networks of friends or relatives, mothers have stark choices to make about their children when they go out to work – leave them alone unattended outside or cared for by very young siblings, or lock them in a room for many hours. Some of these children are as young as two years old.
Nagorik is providing day care and early years’ education for the younger children, and drop-in opportunities to enable older children to get a taste for education, study support and a route back into mainstream school or an appetite for further training. Staffed by dedicated people from the local area, Nagorik has created a safe, colourful and nurturing environment for the children and young people to thrive.
The project supports two groups of children. Young children, aged 2 – 5, whose parents are working in the garment industry receive pre-school education and pastoral support at two day care centres. Older children aged 6-16 are supported with catch-up education, support to return to school or training, and life skills support at drop-in centres. Their parents are helped with parenting approaches and understanding children’s rights and protection.
Every two months parent-teacher meetings are held to discuss children’s progress, school enrolment, child rights and the rights of garment factory workers. Regular meetings and lobbying with government officials has helped Nagorik staff members to access 101 birth certificates for children. The birth certificate is one the most essential documents used to access government schemes and entitlements, including education in a government school, and featured in a documentary animation film that the childre produced with Rainbow Collective and designer Alex Noble.
Over the last three years, the project team has built an excellent relationship and trust in community, especially with family members. Services provided are better than many private commercial centres, but due to the parents’ levels of poverty no financial contributions were charged. However, in the last year, parents have been providing in-kind help in the form of fruit, vegetables, meat or grains to support the day-care kitchen. The team is planning to consult parents and may charge a nominal fee towards the running cost of the day-care.
Children are given the opportunity to play, learn and interact in a friendly and nurturing environment, and receive nutritious food and basic healthcare essential for their development. Their parents have an increased understanding of their children’s needs and rights, including the importance of getting birth certificates for the children, essential identity documents that allow children to access core services.
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