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25 Jul 2019 | Air pollution solutions

E-Paath and E-Paathshala classes for brick workers’ children at Dhading school

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Forty-two children aged 5 to 9 years from grades 2 to 4 have started taking computer-enabled classes in Nepali, English, science, and math on 25 child-friendly laptops. Photo: ICIMOD

Brick workers, both women and men, face numerous vulnerabilities without any form of social protection. The seasonal migration that this work entails has resulted in the exclusion of generations of workers’ children from formal schooling systems – trapped in a vicious circle of relocation and subsistence livelihoods. Yet, investments in the living and working conditions of women and men brick workers can enable mutual benefits for all involved in this sector. Therefore, in addition to working with the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries (FNBI) to provide technical support to help kilns become more energy efficient and reduce emissions through seven model kilns across Nepal, ICIMOD is also mobilizing support from local governments and the private sector to implement action research in three priority areas: health, workplace safety, and education for workers’ children. This three-pronged intervention is expected to showcase how improved working conditions at factories can directly result in enhanced productivity for brick entrepreneurs.

“The school’s teachers came to the kiln and said that we should send the children to study so that they can have a life better than mine. My daughter has learned so much since she started school. I am so happy that my children are being given a chance”. –Leela Maya Moktan, parent from Rolpa

In March 2019, ICIMOD established ICT-enabled facilities at Shri Kalika Elementary School in Dhading in collaboration with FNBI, Dhading Brick Kiln Association, Dhunibesi Municipality, and Shikhar Insurance. The provincial government has indicated interest in becoming an active stakeholder in this undertaking in the coming Nepali fiscal year. With Open Learning Exchange (OLE) as the service provider, five teachers (including two women) were trained in computer-enabled teaching. The E-Paath (computer-enabled classes) and E-Paathshala (digital library) classes are based on the Government of Nepal’s national curriculum.

Dhading Brick Association President Ekraj Gajurel marveled at how the small school, which the association had helped build for workers’ children, was hosting the only OLE computer-based teaching in Dhading district. Arabinda Mishra, Livelihoods Theme Leader, ICIMOD, outlined how the newly inaugurated e-learning facilities at the school hinged on three key aspects: social responsibility (of everyone involved) to better the lives of brick workers and their children; optimizing and maintaining effective public–private collaborations; and aspirations of the parents, school, and community to break through towards better futures.

“In this scientific age, the opportunity to learn interactively using OLE’s E-Paath and E-Paathshala platforms is vital for children, regardless of whether they are brick kiln workers’ children.”–Rajendra Prasad Pandey, MP–Province 3

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