M. Venkatarangaiya Foundation
More than 100,000 children in 500 villages of Ranga Reddy District of Andhra Pradesh have benefited from the MVF program of withdrawing children from work and enrolling them into school. Relying mainly on community initiatives, the MVF program aims at motivating parents and children to utilise the formal school as a medium for the child's advancement. Based on the belief that every child out of school is a working child, the program does not make any distinction between one form of child labour and another. Its single point agenda is to ensure no child goes to work and all go to school.
The strategy adopted is essentially based on age group and gender. Older children in the age group 9-14 years are run through a bridge course which utilises what they ailready know to enable them to catch up with regular school children of their own age. For younger children, direct admission to schools is undertaken. In all cases, there is a detailed follow-up programme which ensures minimal drop-out. For the girl child the approach, though broadly similar, is more intensive.
Over the years the program has involved more and more sections of the local community. Today it encompasses, apart from parents and children themselves, elected representatives, employers and government school teachers. As the programme has expanded to cover 500 villages the role of MVF has changed from an initiator to a facilitator.
The programme has demonstrated the following:
Target GroupIt is the assessment of the MV Foundation that every non-school going child is a working child. Thus the MV Foundation defines all children in the age group of 5-14 years who are out of schools as child labour. Its target group therefore encompasses every non-school going child - irrespective of whether engaged in wage work or non wage work, self-employed or working for others, employed in hazardous or non hazardous occupations, employed on daily wage or on contract basis as bonded labourers.
The remaining 10% were from the urban slum and engaged as:
- Workers in biscuit factories for packing and carrying loads.
- Workers in plastics and dyes factories.
AchievementsThe MV Foundation has achieved significant successes in the ten or so years of its existence in the area of child labour.
Profile of Children
ImpactAt the community level the project has resulted in enormous changes. In the first place there is now a clear understanding of the implication of a child working and not going to school. For the first time, the process of withdrawing a child from work is viewed as an integral part of sending a child to school. At the same time, there is a greater appreciation of the fact that a child need not be deprived of education and that the community can play a major role in ensuring that all children are in school. The areas covered under the MVF programme have seen significant and unprecedented participation of the community, which has not only played a key role in sustaining motivation of individual parents but also contributed significantly in financial terms. In most schools rather than wait for the government to supplement the infrastructure the community has come forward to support not only additional teachers but also contributed funds for expanding the school building. Much of the success of the MVF program has been a consequence of the active participation of the community in the management of the program.
A second major development in the areas covered by the MVF program is the attitude of the parents towards their children now in school. Most of them have made enormous sacrifices in terms of time and money to ensure that their children remain in school. The work hitherto done by the child has been redistributed among other adults in the family. There have been several instances where cattle and other livestock have been sold once the children were enrolled in schools as there was no one to look after them now. Above all the parents' confidence in the capabilities of their children has increased enormously. In complete contrast to conventional wisdom on the crucial role which the child's income plays in the sustaining the family economy, parents have in fact begun to spend more money than before on their children.
Community pressure has also played a great role in changing the attitude of the employers towards children. With declining acceptability within the community of the role of children as workers, employers are no longer in a position to employ children quite as easily as before. In fact, community pressure has resulted in employers voluntarily sponsoring children working with them for enrolment in schools and bridge courses. With the decline in availability of children to work in their fields larger landlords have been forced to change cropping patterns. Crops such as floriculture, which depended to a large extent on children during the flower picking operations, are now no longer popular.
The project has also resulted in some significant changes in the pattern of thinking both at the government and the NGO level. In the first place it has brought about a realisation at least in the Andhra Pradesh state that there is a wide gap between the expectation of the parents and the availability of educational infrastructure, in particular, the teachers. It has also drawn attention to the fact that there is nothing inevitable about the existence of child labour in rural areas and that it is largely a program of poor management and motivation. To this extent the MVF model with its emphasis on bridge courses has been instrumental in inspiring large-scale programs such as back-to-school programs run by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
The MVF model has also served to highlight the severe limitations of the non-formal education centre approach that has symbolised much of the government's policies in the past. The program has also served to highlight the fact that the best method and indeed the only method to withdraw children from work is to enrol them in full time formal schools. This fact is evident from the programs for child labour drawn up under the NCLP programs, which has a strong component of education.
The MVF model has served to inspire similar ventures in other states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and in the cities of Calcutta and Mumbai.
M. Venkatarangaiya Foundation
28, Marredpally West,
Secunderabad - 500 026,
Andhra Pradesh - INDIA
Phone No. 091-040-7801320
Fax No. 091-040-7808808
page CHILD LABOUR