The glass bangle industry in Hyderabad Pakistan is synonymous with child bonded labour. Girls and boys as young as 7, work 6 days per week in a very hazardous conditions with no access to safety equipment. The poorest families often have no alternative but to push their children into bonded labour due to debt and unregulated credit arrangements with factory owners. In some cases unpayable loans are inherited from one generation to another providing little opportunity to exit the cycle of poverty. Labour Watch Pakistan report bonded labourers are mostly from religious and lower caste minorities and employers find it lucrative to use bonded labour as local law enforcement is weak.
World Learning Europe in partnership with the Institute of Rural Management Pakistan have developed a programme to address the social norms which perpetuate the culture of child bonded labour. We have reached the final stage in our funding application to UK Aid Direct.
Our programme hopes to engage girls and boys in a six month programme of informal education to improve their knowledge and skills. Using entrepreneurship as a catalyst to learning, the children will set up and deliver their own small community based project. In the process of setting up and delivering the project the children will learn key life skills including numeracy, literacy, managing money, communication, teamwork, critical thinking and life planning.
The aim of the programme will be to create pathways into vocational or formal education. Education provides the pathway into better paid and more sustainable employment breaking the cycle of poverty for children in bonded labour and their younger sisters and brothers.