Education for Children working on Bricks Kilns

Due to the poverty barrier, children working on bricks kilns are not able to get education

“What starts off as a small loan ends up trapping generations into bonded labor”

In Pakistan about 4–5 million people are working on bricks kilns. Brickmaking is one of the important industries related to construction in Pakistan. According to international studies about 10 million people are attached to this industry either directly or in-directly. It is also studied that around 2 million children also work for 14 hours per day on these kilns. These children are deprived of their basic human rights (education) and social security.

I live in a small village of Sargodha. There is a large number of bricks kilns in this area. Recently I have visited a brick kiln near my village in order to get an insight of people living and working on that brick kiln. I was so upset to see the low quality of life for people living there. I saw a children working with their parents and siblings.

Little boy making mud bricks with his elder brother

The people living in the slums of brick kilns are deprived of their basic human rights. They are forced to work at these kilns like slaves. I have interviewed two families of workers, working on a brick kiln near by my village.

Family of Muhammad Ali working on a bricks kiln
Family of Sajjad working on a bricks kiln

It was a good experience to interview these kind hearted people. My basic purpose for this interview was to get reason why these people are not able to provide a basic education to their children. The reason was “poverty”. They said that;

There is no law for our protection. Owners of kilns treat us like their personal slaves. We are threatened by our owners with severe consequences, if we demand raise in our daily wages.

When asked them why they don’t get their children admission in schools? Muhammad Ali told me;

We are poor people and forced to work for 14 to 18 hours per day. Despite of all this hard work we get only 1200 per day. Our family is large and if we put our children in schools I would not be able to earn living for my family. We are a bonded labor and trapped into a perpetual cycle of debt that passed into our family from my father.

A mother working on a bricks kiln with his daughter

So, I experienced that the main reason is poverty due to which they are not able to get their children admission in schools. International Labor Organization estimates that over 12 million children work as child laborers. Generally, their families are large and they have to work together to get the going easier for them. Children help their parents in back-breaking task of carrying clay and bricks.

Children working with their father

These people don’t know how to read and write. This makes them an easy target for trafficking, exploitation and abuse. No. of persons have worked for these people to raise their voices for basic human rights but they were allegedly tortured while trying to advocate for the implementation of government rules. The owners of these bricks kilns have strong political relationships and police is not able to take serious steps against this mafia.

Aslam Meraj a social activist was allegedly tortured in 2014 while trying to advocate for the implementation of the minimum wages in the brick kiln industry (Image Courtesy: Aljazeera News)

The solution to this problem is the establishment of non-formal schools for the children working on these kilns. Through these schools children would be able to get education at their ease. The government should take serious steps to eradicate the poverty barrier so, that children living in these slums would get a quality education.

Steps that I have taken to conduct this research:

  1. Asking permission from my parents for this visit because it was compulsory for me to get somebody know that I’m going to do this for my project work assignment.
  2. Taking permission from the brick owner to visit the kiln and take opinion from the workers. It was mandatory to seek permission prior to conduct this research to avoid any misfortune at the moment.
  3. To convince families for interview. It was the most difficult task to do because these people are not familiar with this kind of actions and they are too shy to speak.
  4. Analyzing and listening their stories of hardships. To analyze the complete scenario I have to listen their hardships. This helped me to find the actual reason behind this gap of education.

Benefits from the research:

  1. Social linkages; I got an experience of a life of a social activist person.
  2. Confidence buildup; The whole process of conducting interview boosted up my confidence.
  3. I learnt how to deal with people on workplace.

Amal Fellow Batch-183