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The future is not completely beyond our control

It is the work of our own hands

Robert F. Kennedy

Rehabilitation of Child Labor

Child labor in India:

Rules and ideas coming from outside and influencing the country’s own policies are likely to complicate rather than resolve the problem of child labor. India needs to look within itself for solutions, which are adaptive to the country’s needs and the media can play a strategic role in bringing out these issues, to make the society and government think and act in a manner best suited to the child’s welfare. The pressure put on the Indian government has led to its taking certain steps, to be in control of the situation of child labor.

The reason why a family sends a child to work is not primarily that he/she should learn the skills but to supplement the family income. The burden of economic necessity has to be removed from the child’s shoulders. The need to provide education combined with encouragement to such vocational training is required. House holds below the poverty line, or even those marginally above, cannot be persuaded to send their children to schools. Between Right to live and the Right to childhood, both parents and children choose the former. In countries like India, the problem of child labor is inextricably, linked with the problem of poverty.

Poverty and socio-economic and political instability, are forcing more children to become workers and earners for the family. With a view to make the children better equipped to face life, several projects have been launched in India. The government is pursuing a multi pronged strategy, to deal with the problem of child labour. As part of the strategy, laws prohibiting employment of child labour, are being strongly enforced, while the community is being motivated. We need a time-bound and phased programme to ban child labour.

Andhra Pradesh, is the fifth largest state in the country. The state is administratively divided into 23 districts. There are 1.1 million children below 7 years of age and in absolute numbers there are 2, 06, 44,848 children in the state. Nearly 8.5% of all its children are workers. In other words, 13% of all child laborers of India live in this state. And 92% of the child labourers are found in rural areas.

  • Over 80% of all children live in rural areas.
  • The real income of rural household is low and seasonally affected.
  • There are more children as dependents per family than adults in the earning age.
  • Adult employment is influenced by seasonal needs i.e. adults are under-employed most of the year when agricultural activity is on a low key.
  • Customary Institution in employing children in certain jobs.
  • Children have become wage-earners to support the family income when they migrate in search of income for consumption need.
  • Illiteracy is one of the root causes for child labour

The carious types of regular employment rural children undertake, range form agriculture, livestock, forestry, plantation, orchards, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, processing, construction, trade and commerce, transport, storage and communication. However, more than 80% of children, work primarily as, agricultural laborers and cultivators. The percentage of child workers to total workers in Andhra Pradesh is 8.6% in rural areas.

We have conducted a field survey, to study and analyze the working conditions of the child laborers in the project area and the findings are given below.

Different socio-economic factors, have contributed to these children from not going to school. Child labor is a way of life, for many of the families. The child labor are paid wages on par with the adult workers both in industries and agriculture and thus the child labor have become, the earning members of their families, the parents are more interested in sending them for work than to school and are the major hurdle in eradication or reducing the incidence of child labor.

Tiny-tots who should rejoice and clap and run around find themselves trapped in a snare, that opens every now an then, to set free the enslaved infants for a while, so that they could return the next morning to a habitat, that is the dingiest of all work places. It is in such inhospitable, uncongenial and unhealthy precincts, that these children grow up and ultimately reach the adult state, to be treated thereafter as the dregs of society.

Nearly 86% of male child workers and 94% of female child workers in the project area are illiterate. Among working girl children the percentage of those who completed primary school is very low i.e. 3.5%.

Child labour, is prevalent in almost every economic activity, ranging form agriculture to trade, unorganized sectors, and tertiary services to manufacturing units and so on. The state of working children is pathetic. They are forced to scorching heat, exhaustion, dehydration, head aches, amoebiasis, tuberculosis, dust allergy, respiratory problem etc. It is reported that a child within 3to 4 months of working loses about 5 kgs. of weight. Apart from health risks, the child labour is subjected to physical, verbal and sexual abuse.

Illiteracy and ignorance about various aspects of working makes children all the more vulnerable to exploitation. The children are living in unhygienic conditions, suffer malnutrition and are ill-fed.

Lack of timely health care and highly expensive medical care, are influencing the lives of poor people. Healthy families are very meager as a result. They have to take the patients to the nearby health centers in the towns. Lack of transport facilities, is playing Hazardous role number of people taken their last breath while shifting them in inconvenient means of transport. The primary health center is situated in the mandal head Quarters, which is very far away to the corner villages. The quarry workers are often effected by, lung diseases bronchitis and allergic, bronchiectasis and tuberculosis and lung CANCER. Half of their earnings are spent for their health.

There are many interventions, to reduce their poverty situation and the most important is elimination of child and protection of Rights of the child since, it is time to work properly for the future of this country by investing in its children. Poverty, social discrimination, attitudes of adults towards children, are the main cause for the existence and growth of child labour. A child laborer is deprived of education, play, recreation, free time, proper nutrition and even basic health care, besides a healthy living environment. These problems of child labour have to be tackled and attended to on a priority basis. The task before every one is challenging and it becomes effective and fruitful when NGO’s participate in the programme where community, particularly women are involved from the beginning. The main imparts for the elimination of child labour should come form the community. “EVERY CHILD HAS A RIGHT TO EDCUATION”

For eradication of child labour, we feel that the following interventions will play a major role.

  • Community oriented primary education
  • Non-formal education
  • Vocational training
  • Improvement of economic status of the families through Income Generation Programme
  • Awareness of the communities and community participation.

In this project, we are dealing with awareness of communities. We plan to organize seminar for Teachers, Village Formal Leaders, Women Self Help Group leaders, Youth leaders and form them into village action communities. After attending the seminar, these people will go back to their villages and as a group organize awareness creation, among the parents and communities and motivate them to send the children back to school.

Education is an instrument or mechanism that moulds man in the real sense. Any defect or malfunction of it, may possibly lead to breaking the backbone of a nation. Education will lead to confidence in themselves, knowledge and understanding. Education accelerates the process of children’s emancipation. There is definitely a need for, intervention in the form of information, knowledge, skills and awareness through a process of structured education system. In this context, it would be necessary to make the educational facilities and provisions accessible, to the children and make education attractive to end child labour.

Though this project, we intend to assist the child labour and school dropouts, especially the girl children belonging to the target communities from the 5 villages to attain Minimum Level of Learning by attending to schools and making formal education accessible to these children so that they can enjoy their fundamental right to education and Right to Live.

Attitude is little thing
that makes a big difference
Winston Churchill
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Let us all join hands and work with the community in the battle against CANCER in India

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