Nazmul is 11 years old, but he does not have time to play. His day is divided between the 8 hours that he works in a small workshop of making gloves and the four hours in which he goes to the school of Educo, in the slum (marginal district) Hazaribag, in Dhaka (Bangladesh).
The workshop is a claustrophobic space with little ventilation. The dust generated by the fabrics is piling up in the electric cables and above the fan. It is very hot. Two girls sitting on the floor cut the patterns while other boys are sewing the pieces, then other more small children will be in charge of sorting and packaging. In this space, 22 boys and girls (including some children) work every day to make mittens that will then be exported to South Korea for use by factory workers. Each month, 15,000 new couples leave this dump.
In this work, Nazmul earns a thousand takas a month (barely € 12), with which he helps his family. The little one works six and a half days a week. It only has a party on Fridays, a holiday in the Muslim calendar, in the afternoon.
On school days, Nazmul is studying from 11 to 15 hours at the Educo school in Hazaribag, one of the five that provide education to children who, like him, are forced to work for the economic needs of their families. These centers have a curriculum and schedules adapted to the reality of these children and their abilities. Thus, they can take in four years the subjects that in the formal education system are given in five years and the teachers follow the students to stimulate their development. In addition to free education, all students receive uniforms, books and the necessary school supplies.
The School, Hope For A Better Future
Getting these working children to school is often not easy. In Educo we talk with them and their families to raise awareness about the importance of studying. We also talk to their employers to make it easier for them to go to school, to have better working conditions and to respect their rest periods.
The ultimate goal is to eradicate child labor but it is not easy work in a country where more than 7 million children are exploited at work and much of society sees it as normal and even necessary to contribute to domestic economies. From Educo we advocate with other children’s organizations to comply with the law and respect the rights of children. In addition, we sensitize families to become involved in their children’s education and not to send them to work in conditions of exploitation.
In parallel, we work so that all these children can go to school and complete their education. In this way, they will be able to have a training and knowledge with which a better future can be carved out.
At the moment, Nazmul is in the fifth year of primary school and, according to his teachers, he is a good student. Major wants to be a teacher. In the school of Educo is taking the first steps to fulfill his desire.