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Urban Out-of-school Programme gives a new hope for the working children in Nepal

© UNICEF Nepal/2011/ASBasnet
Ten year old Tara Nepali in her classroom

By-Ashma Shrestha Basnet

4th May 2011, Dang, Nepal – Like any other ten-year-old, Tara Nepali from Ghorahi municipality in Dang, in the mid-western district of Nepal, loves playing with her friends, wearing nice clothes and going to school. However, she is different than many other children in her community. At the tender age of 10, she is shouldering the responsibility of taking care of her new-born brother and helping her family to earn money.

Every day, Tara gets up at 5 o’clock in the morning and helps her step-mother with household chores and babysits her young brother while the mother is busy cooking meals for the family. Then she goes to the stone quarry with her mother and an elder brother aged 11 to break stones while their father goes to the workshop where he works as a mechanic.

“Every day, my brother and I go to work in the stone quarry near my house with my new mother for about 4 to 5 hours,” says Tara. “Together we earn about NRS. 6,000 (about USD 85) in a month.”

UOSP Classes – a fun time while learning new things

Tara says her favourite part of the day is the two hours when she goes for classes. She is currently attending the classes run for out-of-school children in level 1.

© UNICEF Nepal/2011/ASBasnet
Tara, playing with her friend in the class.

“I enjoy the time I spend here as I like studying new things while playing with the materials available in the class,” says Tara with smile on her face. “Here I get to play with my friends and sing rhymes. I simply love singing.”

The Urban Out-of-school Programme (UOSP) is targeted at working children aged 10–14 years who are unable to go to formal school or have dropped out after a year or two. After completing the two levels of 10 month courses these children are encouraged to join the formal school.

“To cater to the special needs of working children special counselling and life-skills components have been incorporated into the UOSP package,” said Eva Ahlen, Chief of UNICEF’s Education section.  “UNICEF is advocating to increase the time of classes from two hours to three hours a day to provide more opportunity for children to spend quality learning time in the centres.”

 In Dang district, UNICEF has been implanting this programme in two municipalities, Ghorahi and Tulsipur. “With the growth of the urban population in these municipalities there has been a rise in the number of working children—children working to earn or helping their working parents in taking care of the family and household,” says Rajesh Saru Magar, District Project Officer of Dang. “UNICEF has been supporting 30 UOSP classes through the Municipality office in the two municipalities, benefitting 600 children.”

The UOSP classes have truly proved to be a ray of hope for the children like Tara who are not able to go to school for various reasons. When asked what she would like to do in the future, she promptly says, “My teacher is my idol and I will study ‘a lot’ and become just like her.”

 

 

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