News & Events

09 May 2012
School Too Far For Child Labor

 Paaru Rajbanshi had lost her father before she was born and her mother died when she was just a toddler.

A poor Rajbanshi family in her village of Korabari in Jhapa raised her while her three elder sisters worked as domestic helps doing odd jobs at others people´s homes. 

The poor Rajbanshis enrolled her at a local community school where she completed the fourth grade. One of her elder sister then brought her to Kathmandu to stay with relatives of the sister´s employers while she was around nine.

The allure of Kathmandu was too strong to resist and Radha Krishna Shrestha, a government employee, had also promised to continue her education at a better school. “Every year I requested them to enroll me at a school. They would promise to get me admitted the next year but the next year never arrived,” Rajbanshi, now 16, reveals.

The Shresthas made her work from early in the morning till 10 at night doing all the chores of the five-member family at Dillibazar. They did not even allow her to return to village to continue her education. She joined informal class given by a non governmental organization on her own initiative last year and she got a two-and-half-year scholarship for skill-training at Pokhara. 

But the Shresthas did not allow her to go to Pokhara and she was rescued by the police last month. “They asked me to go the next year. When I insisted to go this year, they warned me that the organization could sell me in India for prostitution,” she revealed. She is currently in Pokhara honing her skills for livelihood to try to compensate for missing her formal education.

“She would have got lost in this big city and we could not that,” was the lame excuse of Radha Krishna´s wife Kalpana, who was tongue-tied when asked if her own children had ever gotten lost in the big city. 

Many children working as domestic helps in Kathmandu and across the country at an early age never go to school despite the government spending millions to bring the children of primary school going age to schools. An International Labor Organization (ILO) report in 2008 said that around 21,000 children work as domestic helps in Kathmandu Valley. 

Child right activist Milan Dharel claimed 30% of those domestic helps don´t go to schools at all and even those who go to schools are not regular and eventually drop out. “We don´t have any programs solely focusing on domestic helps but we are conducting media campaigns to sensitize the employers of these children and even their guardians to send them to school,” Director General of the Department of Education Mahashram Sharma said.