Addressing child labour through Open School

The Open School Project of Tomorrow’s Foundation was initiated in 2001 to offer customised open school education options in continuing education for out-of-school children, living and working in slums of Kolkata. Open School Education reaches out to children and youth who had never been to school or are school drop-outs. The project provides both Education and Life Skill Training.

From 2015, TF started working in close collaboration with Learning for Life UK with the aim of eliminating the worst forms of child labour in Kolkata as well as South Asia. Through a baseline survey, a group of school drop-outs and children who had never been to school were identified. They were involved in hazardous work like leather processing in factories, rag picking and piggery while most of the girl children from the slums were working as domestic helps.

Some Numbers till date:

  • 1300 children and youth have been mainstreamed.
  • 85% of the students have gone on to higher education.
  • 6 students have completed college graduation.
  • 98 students, who were in hazardous working zones, have moved to safer jobs.
  • 31 students who were enrolled in Open School in 2015 have been mainstreamed in government schools by their parents.

As of November 2019, Open School is working with 106 children [60 girls and 46 boys] who are continuing their education through the Open School project and are also getting life skills training on a range of areas such as IT skills, communicative English, personality development and performance arts. Of these 106 students, 46 students are at the secondary level [Standard 10] and 10 are at the senior secondary level [Standard 12].

The Open School also focuses on:

  • Counseling the parents/single mothers to allow their children their right to education along with other basic principles of Child Rights, instead of coercing them into becoming wage-earners.
  • Speaking to factory owners and conducting awareness programmes with them on the rights of children and youth they employ and making them aware of Child Labour Legislation; and
  • Sensitize the wider community about the rights of children (CR) and Child Labour Law (CLL).

A total number of 400 parents and 30 employers have received training so far on CR & CLL. 900 community people in Tangra zone are aware of Child rights and Child Labour Law.

Through Open School Education, our goal is to provide livelihood opportunities along with education to the children, helping them to break the cycle of poverty and improve their living standards along with their families, and helping them move to non-hazardous professions that would give them self esteem and confidence.

Some Key Activities:

  • Students across levels have participated in preparing Teaching Learning Materials (TLMs) to enhance their skills of comprehension.
  • Formative exams have been conducted for secondary level students to measure their preparation before appearing the final Board examination.
  • Secondary level students prepare TMAs (Tutor Marked Assignments) with the assistance of the teachers of the Open School project.