Eradicating Child Labour through Education
“I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. to collect the garbage from the households nearby and I get paid 50 rupees every month from each household,” says Azhar, a 10-year-old boy from the slums of Ghazipur district. Azhar is not the only case. As per 2001 Census, India had as many as 1.26 crore children (age group of 5-14 years) that were involved in child labour. By 2011, thanks to a series of government initiatives coupled with dedicated efforts of NGO’s in the country, there was a substantial decrease in the number of child labour which stood at 43.53 lakh children.
According to International Labour Organization (ILO), child labour is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. It refers to work that:
• is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
• interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
Child labour is a rigid problem, an evil that is entrenched deep in the society. Abject poverty being the root cause, most of the families are left with no other choice other than to send their children to work, irrespective of their age. Overpopulation, lack of primary education, availability of young labourers at meagre wages, heavy financial debts are a few reasons why child labour continue to exist.
Eradicating child labour may seem a gigantic task, but it isn’t entirely unattainable. Free education, awareness about the ill-effects of child labour, forming labour policies, awareness about human rights are a few ways to uproot this menace. Sending these children to work for whatever reason, is damaging to their growth. Denied the opportunity to go to school, they are deprived of the opportunities of learning. As a result, it destroys their chances of leading a healthy life. Under the circumstances, education holds out a promise for these children.
Children living around the landfill of Ghazipur are equally disadvantaged – they don’t get opportunity for schooling and at the same time are exposed to hazardous environment risk at the landfill site where they go picking up rags. Responding to the felt need of these children IL&FS Education took up a remedial education programme in Ghazipur through the project, ‘Panchi’ in the year 2015. The objective was to provide educational opportunity to these children and remedial teaching so that they could be mainstreamed into regular schools.
They were also provided training on life skills through focused activities and exposure trips to develop self-confidence, build positive self-image, health and hygiene awareness. Through this program IL&FS Education eliminated approximate of 150 child labours. Though minuscule but it was an effort nonetheless.
From this program, it was palpable that these children want to be rescued, they want an alternative option from their harrowing conditions, they want a strong solution for themselves. For these children, Education can serve as catalyst to break the cycles of poverty. This child labour day lets pledge to help eliminate this scourge from the country by taking up constructive support to the target population in our respective areas.