Children of Bhaktapur brick kiln workers deprived of education

Kathmandu, January 28

Every winter, hundreds of families from Rolpa, Rukum, Surkhet, Jumla, Humla, Dailekh, Kalikot, and other districts migrate to Bhaktapur to work in brick kilns for six months, after which they return to their homes.

For these six months, the children of these families don't go to school.

Data at the Cottage and Small Scale Industry of Bhaktapur show there are 62 brick kilns in the district, each employing hundreds of workers, most of who bring their children to work with them. Many of these workers have no one to look after their children, and cannot afford to send them to schools.

A migrant worker Gopal Pariyar from Rolpa said it had been a month since he moved to the city with his family. He said, "I worry about my children’s education. But we are poor people. If we don't do this job, we can't survive."

The Department of Education launches a special student enrolment campaign every year, but the children miss out on it. Pariyar said, "It saddens me that none of my children can read or write. But we have no one to look after them back home. We are doing what we have to."

Proprietor of Shree Changu Narayan Chimney Udhyog Laxmi Bhakta Chawal said he hired seasonal workers for six months every year. The workers sometimes also involve their children at work to earn more money. "They make small temporary huts near the brick kiln. The factory is more than two kilometres away from any school, so the workers don't send their children to school."

Dr Kedar Nath Shrestha, president of Kopila Nepal, has been running a school for these children. "We run temporary classes for these children following the school curriculum, so they can go to the next grade when they return home," Shrestha said. This year, the seasonal school has 25 children.