Once a den of child labour and exploitation, a few brick kilns here in North 24 Parganas district have turned into playschool and vocational training centres for children. Located on the outskirts of Kolkata, BBF II and RKM brick kiln units here have become role models after the brick kiln owners, teachers, Panchayat members and child rights activists came together to establish multi-purpose centres for underprivileged children of labourers.
Md Khursid Alam, one of the owners of the land where the brick kiln unit is set up, says after realising that he could play an important role in building the future of poor children he allowed the construction of the centre on his land.
In a child-friendly environment within the kiln, the centre provides facilities for early childhood care and development, education and pre-vocational training to children and teenagers. “For toddlers it is a playschool, crÃ¨che and nutritional centre. For grown-ups it is a classroom while the young adults get vocational training on tailoring,” the brick-kiln owner told PTI.
The multi-purpose centres are owned and run by the community with funding from international NGO Save the Children.
Mitali Mandal said her seven-year-old daughter was often left crying alone in the shanty or she used to help her in preparing clay under the scorching sun. “Now I am relieved that she has a safe shelter in the kiln when I am working,” says the 32-year-old mother of two.
Note: This article is also published here.