Tuesday, 2 February 2016

No Child Left Behind - The Right to a Good Education and to Enjoy Childhood.

Recently we moved our middle two children out of a pre-school where we were travelling 10/15 minutes by car to get there. Instead we moved them to the local pre-school where our eldest boy already went to school. 

One of the reasons for this is that we wanted to walk to school and not have to keep getting in the car. 

Our middle boy does half days and starts at 12:30 so that means we do quite a lot of walking back and forth as we walk back and forth at 9 for one of our boys, then 12:30 and then 3:00.  

Today while eating dinner Aye said to me why do our children moan so much about walking to school. When we are on days out they don't moan- just with with walking to school they do. My answer was that probably they are just little but if we distract them and play games on the way they won't moan. 

Then Aye asked me if I grumbled when I walked to school and I said yes! 

But his answer was different. He said he never moaned or grumbled if he had to walk anywhere. He said his village school in Burma was 45 mins away from where he lived. Aye only went to school for three years from age 5 to 8. During this time and after this he worked with his grandma and grandpa on the rice fields and was walking about 3 hours a day.
In 2008 Aye showed me where he grew up and told me all about the daily work he would have to do. While we were there his niece was doing the exact same work that he used to have to do. 


Aye helping his niece checking the fish traps in the rice fields

Catching fish in the rice fields

Where Aye grew up


Aye was used to working as a child and never thought much of it. All the children in his village did some kind of work and they never felt hard done by or like it 'wasn't fair'. 
They worked alongside family members mostly and assisted their parents in the 'family work' Be it running a market stall, farming, growing vegetables or even making bricks!

A lot of the children work because they can't afford to go to school so rather than get up to mischief or do nothing the family members involve them in the work. 

I have no answer for how to change this situation. A lot of the children want to go to school but it costs money that a lot of families do not have. 

If you asked Aye, he would say working from a young age has made him the successful man he is today- determined, fearless, hard-working and dreams big dreams (that he achieves!)

All this got me thinking about a new initiative that London Stone are supporting.
The website is http://nochildleftbehind.co.uk and you can also follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/Children4School

This is what they state their vision to be:

"Our vision, no child is left behind; meaning that no child should be working and every child has the right to a good education and the right to enjoy childhood."

Steve from London Stone learning how to cut cobbles
(Photo from http://nochildleftbehind.co.uk)

Now, I don't know too much about the organisation but I am certainly going to be following their blogs and reading what they have to say. One of the reasons will be because it is interesting to Aye and I because of how he grew up but also we are interested from a business point of view as we install a great deal of Indian Sandstone and I would like to learn more about where it is sourced and the conditions of the workers.
The situation will be different from that in Burma, however on the three times that I have been to Burma I have seen children making bricks and involved in construction.

We currently support Aye's brother's children in Burma with their education as we know how important a good education is to give them the tools to make their own way in life when they are older. 

Also, those that know me (Susan) will know that I was a primary school teacher for 7 years so this topic is one that is close to my heart. If you too want to follow the progress of the project to create child labour free zones, then you can read the first blog here: http://nochildleftbehind.co.uk/2016/02/creating-child-labour-free-zones-long-complex-journey/

Visiting the school in Aye's village