Fellow Since 1998
Bikalpa Gyan Kendra
This profile was prepared when Stella Tamang was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Stella Tamang is combating the problem of child labor in urban sweatshops by instituting educational opportunities for them that incorporate income generating projects into the curriculum. The exploitation of child labor by factories throughout Nepal's urban centers continues to hamper the development of the country's youth. Stella is convinced that the way to improve the opportunities available to young workers is not simply by passing prohibitive laws, but rather by providing an educational institution which can provide for their livelihood in the present while providing the education that these children would be deprived of in a typical factory environment. By using this approach, Stella ensures that parents will allow their girls to attend her institution: they are not only gaining income for their families, but also learning skills for the future. Graduates of Stella's institution have several options after finishing their 18-month education period. Some of them continue within the formal education system, while others return to their home villages where they are able to use the income generating skills that they recently learned. Still others return home and set up similar "learn and earn" institutions in their home villages using whatever resources are locally available, thereby spreading this new educational paradigm throughout Nepal.