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Starting 2016 with a mission: to help #EndChildLabour

No matter how big or small, young or old, it’s never too late to make a difference. That’s what Savita Persaud, a grade 6 teacher at Gateway Public School in Toronto, discovered when she posed the question to her students: what can we do to create a better world?

3 school boys standing in front of a visual display.

Students from Ms. Persaud’s grade 6 class stand in front of one of their display boards at school.

This year, Ms. Persaud’s students began reading the novel “Iqbal.” They were introduced to the concept of child labour and the cruel and dangerous working conditions millions of children around the world are forced to endure because they are unable to access their rights.

Brainstorming ways to help children

A conversation began brewing in class. The students were upset that children are thrown into a world without choice – one that lacked fairness and the opportunity to grow up learning like a child. As Ms. Persaud explained, “They felt that these kids deserved to be kids and go to school.”

That’s when Ms. Persaud showed her students Plan International Canada’s Gifts of Hope catalogue. They studied the all pages until they found the perfect way to help. The decided to help build a school, a gift that would give thousands of children in rural parts of Mali a safe, accessible place to learn.

Why help the children of Mali?

The decision to help children in one of the poorest countries around the world was an easy one. In Mali, approximately 2 out of 3 children aged 5 to 17 work. Very few children go to school, and those that do are often learning in badly built, understaffed schools or under the guidance of poorly trained and overworked teachers who lack the skills to do their job.

Providing children with a safe place to learn and a real way to escape child labour, like Iqbal from their novel study, got Ms. Persaud’s students motivated to create change. They called their plan the #EndChildLabour project, and immediately began to etch out a proposal to raise the money to help build the school in Mali. The students were eager to lend their voice to the cause.

Students taking a stand to #EndChildLabour

“If we were to help build a school in Mali more kids will get an opportunity to go to school and learn and become good leaders in society,” explained Fahima.

“True activists like Malala and Iqbal inspired me and my class to have the #EndChildLabour project,” said Nishat. “If a school in good condition is built in Mali then many children will be able to get an education and there will be less kids under child labour.”

“The lessons we learn every day in school can lead us to become someone great, such as doctors, engineers, geologists, mathematicians and scientists,” said Sarjieysa. “These children want to become someone great and they need our help in order to become someone great.”

A new challenge set for a New Year

A typed letter to Justin Trudeau.

Students were encouraged to write letters to Prime Minister Trudeau to explain their #EndChildLabour project and see that the subject matter is top of mind.

As 2016 rolls along, Ms. Persaud’s class will host several events to raise awareness and funds for their #EndChildLabour project. They’re excited to take on this new challenge and help make a difference in the lives of children and families in Mali.

As for Ms. Persaud, she’s pretty proud of her grade 6 students. She says one thing she loves about teaching is knowing that she has the ability to inspire and motivate students to see themselves in a different light.

“I really think that this project will help my students realize that no matter how old they are, they can make a meaningful difference in this world.”

We applaud Ms. Persaud for encouraging her students to take on this challenge and for shining light on issues that affect children around the globe. We can’t wait to see what she and her incredible students accomplish in 2016!

Feeling motivated? Find out how you can get involved today!