Kids out of schools as parents mould bricks

Lalitpur, May 26:

Owners of vertical shaft brick kilns (VSBK) have been running seasonal childcare centres for children of brick moulders on industry premises since 2003. Such centres, they opine, help increase productivity as the parents do not have to worry about the safety of their children (below seven years of age) as caretakers look after them in the centres.

“The centres were established with the focus on corporate social responsibilities (CSR) of brick kiln entrepreneurs. These centres are beneficial both to the owners and the parents,” says Mangal Maharjan, manager of the Satya Narayan VSBK brick industry.

Brick moulders arrive in the capital in December, when the school session is about to end. Moulding of bricks stops in June-end as the rainy season begins.

The workers head home in June-end. As the new academic session begins in April, the children are compelled to join their classes halfway. The seasonal nature of the job affects their studies. The entrepreneurs and the workers have been bearing the operating cost of the centres. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is helping entrepreneurs set up and run the childcare centres.

Maharjan says he has made profit even after investing about Rs 1,00,000 for the establishment of the centre, footing Rs 50,000 in training the caretakers and Rs 10,000 for running the centre every month. “On an average, production went down by 40 per cent per day whenever the centre was closed,” he says.

Dhan Kumari Bantha, of Gauri Gaon,Rolpa, says, “It is far better to have a babysitter take care of your children when you are at work.” “Each worker moulds about 200 to 300 more bricks when children are not with them,” she says.