Sankalp Rehmat Nagar Project - Background
Sankalp Rehmat Nagar: Advocacy for Child Rights with Holistic Education and Development of Children Involved in the Brass Industry of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh
Moradabad – The ‘City of Brass’ is located at an approximate distance of 150 kms from New Delhi, in the western region of Uttar Pradesh. Production of Brass Metal Handicrafts is the major trade of this town, which has given it global identity. Major sourcing of brass for international markets for countries like USA, Britain, Canada, Germany and Middle East Asia stems from this town with handicraftexports to the tune of Rs.2,200 Crores on a yearly basis. There are over 600 export units and 5000 industries in the district.
The manufacturing process however entails a number of hazards, which in the absence of safe manufacturing standards can prove fatal. Associated
with this industry is the large magnitude of children working in the innumerable sub-contracting jobs and household units of Brass Metal Handicrafts. The number of children involved in the hazardous processes of brass manufacturing, endangering their childhood, is estimated to be approximately 45,000.Children join work early to support the relatively large families. The emphasis on education is extremely low, and most parents of children have either very basic literacy or none at all.
ASK took an initiative in 1998 in the form of “Sankalp” to wean children away from work and provide them with an opportunity for holistic development. Sankalp is a programme focusing on child rights, education, and welfare of children under especially difficult circumstances. It is currently being implemented in Rehmat Nagar, Moradabad where children and families are engaged in the brass industry. Rehmat Nagar, a locality in the town of Moradabad is inhabited almost entirely by a Muslim population. Most poor families, and they are in large numbers, depend upon daily wage work for survival.
The Sankalp programme has consisted of two major components:
• Working Children Development Programme
• Child Rights Advocacy
The foundation of the intervention was strongly based on two factors: to reach across to the producer class and build the value chain till the lowest level, and to launch an intervention, which can be built on the strengths of the two sectors- Corporate and Civil Society.
The program aims at ensuring that children working in the brass industry receive a normal childhood experience by providing them with education, and health and recreational inputs in a non-formal environment i.e. the Sankalp School. Working children in Moradabad comprise of only males and hence initial interventions were restricted to the male child only. In time the project extended its coverage to include girls, in keeping with their socio-economic realities, deprivation from basic education and development opportunities, and subjection to traditional beliefs and practices that forcethem to be confined to their homes. Presently the ratio of boys and girls is 50:50 in the education program.
Key Highlights: (Updated in January 2013)
Sankalp School currently provides education, health, recreational, and development opportunities to a total of 500 children who have been successfully weaned away from working in the brass industry. Sankalp has taken the recognition for formal education till class 8, and is working towards extending that to class 12. Children actively participate in sports competitions, dramas and role plays, as well as in campaigns on Child Rights by approaching major stakeholders in the city.
Another 160 children have been successfully enrolled in other formal schools. Out of these 100 were children that have been weaned away from working in hazardous brass units, and 60 are girls who were equally vulnerable in terms of lacking development opportunities. A total of 1200children to datehave been benefited with services of education and development, attributed to support from Cordaid, Conran, and individual supporters.
Children have been capacitated to head the agenda for Child Right Advocacy, through the formation of a Children’s Task Force and a Children’s Federation, comprising of over 700 children from Sankalp, neighboring schools and the community.
The organized groups lead activities such as street plays, making wall paintings, door to door visits and rallies to sensitize stakeholders including sub-contractors, exporters, parents and children of the community, and civil society representatives. Over 150 civil society members have been targeted thus far through the initiatives.
Women have been systematically targeted to play an active role in the management of the programme and advocacy initiatives. 30 women have been trained in brass manufacturing to create a model where a mother will replace a child from work under the Women in Development Programme.
A Government Primary School has been approved for Rehmat Nagar locality due to Sankalp’s sustained advocacy with the Education department and District Magistrate.
Due to the continuous advocacy efforts made under the programme with the Chief Medical officer, Additional District magistrate and city Mayor, the health department has also approved the establishment of a Primary health center in the locality.
An NGO forum has been formed and registered to work on the rights of children
The programme has successfully sensitized the local print and electronic Media to constantly highlight the issues of marginalized children and the community. As a result there is increased coverage by print media demanding better education and health facilities for the children. The local electronic cable TV channel runs a feature, twice every week, highlighting the problem of child labor in Moradabad.
Over 15,000 adults, children, civil society members and stakeholders have been directly or indirectly reached out to due to the sustained advocacy efforts of the programme in the form of Street theater, rallies, protests, submission of memorandums, and publishing of a children’s newspaper by the children themselves, supported by their parents and the youth.
In collaboration with AT-GRASSROOTS, an organisation founded by ASK for working towards economic inclusion of the marginalised, the “Mitrata” programme was launched in 2009. Under the scope of this programme, a total of 950 urban and 150 rural households have been provided access to credit for socio-economic purposes and livelihood improvement. 850 households have also been covered under a people-friendly micro insurance scheme.
ASK is currently working on a three year sustainability plan to make Sankalp a self-sustaining initiative, through reduction in poverty by means of micro enterprise development and building on sustainable quality education solutions in Rehmat Nagar.