Education is an important tool for empowering communities. It helps provide opportunities and choices. However, a number of children do not get an opportunity to go to school and remain labeled as “out of school children”. Especially if we take the case of migrant labour, their children never get mainstreamed into proper schools and neither do they get the time and opportunity to study when they travel with their parents in search of jobs. To help the children of the migrant labor who come to Mewat in winters to work at the brick kilns- SMART applied for the Bhattashala project in September 2010. After a rigorous application process, including presentation before a screening committee, SMART was sanctioned 34 centers in December 2010. A comprehensive training was provided to the supervisors and staff of SMART in January 2011. The centers were launched on January 4, 2011.
SMART worked hard to get space for the centers in the only permanent structure at the brick kiln- the munshi’s house. Getting permission from the owners of the brick kilns was not easy. Convincing the parents to send their children to the center was even more difficult. The reason was obvious, parents’ travel with their children to other parts of the country to get assistance from them in making bricks. Little children pull the trolleys full of mud, and their tender hands are used for a number of chores in the brick-making process. All family members pitch in to earn a decent sum of money that can see them through during the monsoon season too. The payment is always on the number of bricks one can make- thus the more the hands the more the output.
However, SMART was one of the few non-governmental organizations that ran the centers successfully and also witnessed full attendance at the centers. The children were given quality education and were provided with books, bags, uniforms, chappals and reading and writing material. Systems were put in place to collect and distribute the mid day meal from the nearby government schools.
The centers were closely monitored by the District Education Project Coordinator, the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan officials and the district administration. The centers run by SMART were rated as excellent. The project came to an end in July 2011.