Every day in Sylhet Bangladesh 3000 young children go to work in jobs that are dangerous. They work for long hours on no or low pay; illness and accidents are frequent. They are deprived of any kind of education. UKBET changes all of this by engaging families and employers in bringing education to children through our Centers for Working Children.
The project's approach is holistic. We persuade employers to release children from work to attend an "UKBET Center for Working Children". Here children are taught basic education and survival skills and can progress into vocational training and non-hazardous occupations. We provide their employers with health and safety training and at the same time confront and discourage their future employment of children. We attack the root causes of poverty by helping parents find alternative income sources. Here is a brief report on our activities and achievement so far:
• 2013 to till now the project has worked with almost 800 children.
• At present we are working with 306 children who are engaged in different kinds of hazardous works.
• These children are attending three education sessions (1.5 hours) per week. A curriculum is developed considering their condition and need. The curriculum included literacy, numeracy skills along with necessary life skills. It also prepare the interested students to go back to main stream education.
• The children gets nutritious meal during their sessions.
• In 2019, 22 children have gone back to formal schooling leaving the hazardous works.
• 20 Children have been admitted into vocational training in 2019.
• Awareness raising in families of the children is one of the major activities of the project. We regularly organize awareness raising program for the families. Our field worker visits families of each every child and motivate the parents for withdrawing their children from hazardous work and also not to send their other children to these works. As result of our work, till now 393 children have left hazardous work. This includes 110 children in 2019.
• We also support the families to raise income by providing them interest free micro credit, engaging them in vocational training or referring them to other NGO working for poverty elevation. This year alone we have provided interest free micro credit to 21 families who have invested the capital in small business like selling vegetable in cart or some of them have invested the money in home based small scale poultry business.
• We have also worked very closely with the employers of the children. We have made them aware about the laws in regard to child labor or demerits of employing of children. As per a recent survey, the number of working children in our project areas have dropped 20% in this year.
• We are also working with the concern department of government and also with local City Corporation for elimination of hazardous child labor.
• We have opened a new center for working children at Beanibazar, Sylhet. This center has started operation from 1st November 2019. 74 children have already been enrolled in this center. They are attending the education sessions and getting other benefits of the project.
Habibur is a 17 years old boy who lives in Bus Terminal area, kadamtoli, Sylhet. He has six sisters. He is the only brother among his siblings and the main bread earner of the family. Habibur used to work at a glass manufacturing factory which was very risky for him as he is physically challenged. His salary was BDT 50.00 (less than half pound) per day. He faced discrimination in salary for his disability. Sometime in November, 2017 he met a teacher from UKBET who convinced and motivated him to join UKBET’s Center for working children. He started his part time education there and passed the Primary School Certificate examination from UKBET center and this achievement increased his confidence level. UKBET also supported him to get proper treatment to overcome physical problem. Besides all of these, UKBET’s teacher visited him family and motivated them to allow Habibur to receive vocational training. As a result, he got admitted in welding training course provided by a partner organization of UKBET on June, 2019. The vocation training provider will place him a suitable job after the training.