Nepal education project “We have had a big change. Our children attend school regularly and they are free. Now, if we are ill, we can rest. Before, we could never rest.”
Kancchu Tharu, who was passed down debt bondage from his father who, in turn, 'inherited' the debt from his father.
Kamaiya is a traditional system of bonded labour in the western plains of Nepal affecting mosly the indigenous Tharu community. Kancchu's family became bonded after his grandfather was unable to pay a government imposed land tax. A landlord offered to pay on his behalf if he agreed to sign over his land; thus leaving Kancchu's grandfather to work as a sharecropper on his own land. Eventually he had to borrow increasing amounts of money from his landlord to feed his family.
This story is all too common with many people in 'lower' castes and ethnic minorities in Nepal, and although bonded labour was finally prohibited in Nepal in 2008, many thousands of 'liberated' former bonded labourers remain trapped in slavery today due to widespread discrimination, limited job opportunities and the government failing to provide compensation in the form of land.
To break the cycle of discrimination and poverty, Anti-Slavery International, in association with our local partner organisations, Informal Service Sectors (INSEC) and BASE, has set up projects which seek to improve access to quality education for children of former Kamaiya and Haliya children in Nepal.Read more about Kamaiya and Haliya
Education is one of the most effective ways of liberating those in bonded labour. Our work aims to prepare children to access state education and ensure they do not drop out of schools.
Getting children to enrol in schools is, in some ways, merely the first hurdle and often this alone is not enough to keep them there. Families can seldom afford books, stationary, uniforms and other school essentials. We found that these trivial things that we might take for granted can be major factors in drop-out and attendance rates, and can also greatly affect the enthusiasm of children for attending school.
To combat this, we try to ensure that these basic needs are met by helping the children gain government scholarships where possible and providing support with stationary and school uniforms.
Since the project started, we have opened a number of preparatory classes Nepal, where over 1,500 children have been given basic education to bring them up to the standard they need to enrol in state schools.
Hundreds of ex-Haliya and Kamaiya children attended preparatory classes and a great majority of them were subsequently enrolled in formal schools.
For children over 15 years of age, we provide vocational training courses to enable them to gain practical skills that will increase the employment opportunities open to them and reduce their families dependency on the landlords.
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