Box 4.10. Literacy Awareness and Educational Support Programme - Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN)
CWIN is an organization of human rights activists which has committed itself to promote children's rights and has initiated programmes for children who are victims of human rights violations. These include child labourers from tea estates and carpet factories, street children and children from poor urban and rural communities, many of whom work under bonded labour arrangements.
CWIN aims to eliminate child labour and rehabilitate child victims. Improvement in the situation of abused children goes hand in hand with lobbying for children's rights and creating nationwide awareness. CWIN's strategy is multi-pronged. It raises awareness, educates children and their families and provides a whole range of other support services such as obtaining legal protection for children, lobbying for the amendment of laws and forming pressure groups to lobby for the rights of children. It seeks to rehabilitate destitute families by providing alternative sources of income and shelters to homeless children.
CWIN's educational programmes include a literacy and awareness programme for around 1,400 children in Sundhupalchowk, Ham, Jhapa and Kathmandu. Classes focus on the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) as well as education on children's rights, for a period of nine months. Teachers are drawn from groups of workers, teachers, women, human rights workers and social workers in the surrounding areas. Facilitators are recruited from the community, the tea estates or the carpet factories, and are trained for ten days. CWIN has developed literacy materials on children's rights and uses these in tandem with materials developed by the Ministry of Education for non-formal education programmes. One objective of the literacy classes is to help child workers understand their rights to fair wages and to be able to determine if they are being paid in full.
CWIN also provides informal education programmes and multi-grade classes in its Common Room and Transit Homes, which are shelters for homeless children, many of whom have never been to school or have had to drop out. After participating in these programmes, the children are assisted through scholarships to attend formal schools. There are various assistance schemes to cover school fees for returning children, and uniforms and supplies, as well as residential care. Some children attend private schools, but more attend the local public schools.
CWIN has recently initiated an experimental education and skills training programme. The first vocational courses were on bicycle repair and electrical wiring. Older children were provided with tool kits and some provision for food and lodging, so that they could start out on their own. The programme still needs strengthening, especially in terms of sustaining contact with the children and ensuring that they are in a safe condition. There is a need to further address the needs of these children and to develop viable alternatives for them.