Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Education vs. Immediate Income

On Day 3 (Tuesday), we went to the northwestern part of Dhaka to see programs for children and their families. It’s always a lot of fun to witness the hope and the empowerment of the beneficiaries and the commitment and energy of the staff and volunteers who are helping to make it happen.

“My daughter is in 11th grade,” said one mother who probably only completed 4th or 5th grade herself. “After she graduates from high school, my daughter hopes to go on to college. She is so confident and capable that I am sure she will always be able to fend for herself in the world,” she said with a big smile.

All this education for a girl was made possible by WV providing encouragement as well as support for school fees, uniforms, and basic school supplies each year. Imagine what the parents think: Can I afford to send my girl to school? What will it cost in cash outlay? What will it cost in foregone income – money she might make if she weren’t studying?

This raises the question, what does it take to tip the balance to education over child labor? Not much during the first few years of a kid’s life, but more and more as the child becomes older.

Sorry, sorry, I’m sounding like a fundraising letter. I just wanted to share with you how inspiring my days can be.

(As we sit in traffic jams, it's been interesting to learn from our translator about his usual work, which is conducting social compliance audits of garment factories here. He checks on whether the factories are hiring child labor or abusing their workers.)

On the less inspirational side, in between visiting programs we reviewed documents – invoices, receipts, letters to sponsors, child progress reports, program plans, project evaluations, and more. We learned more about three different computer systems used for sponsorship management, program monitoring and evaluation, and financial tracking and reporting. We drank coke and tea and accepted flowers and presents that on Thursday we will give over to the staff in the main office. Although we had told the director that as auditors we are not allowed to accept gifts, cultural norms get in the way.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting programs in a distant rural area. Will we ride on boats, motorcycles, or bicycle rickshaws? We’ll see!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

In order for parents to feel like teachers and administrators want them to be a partner in their child's education, schools must set a strong foundation by teaching the parents how to understand the curriculum. This will open up communication between teachers, parents and administrators.