Child Labour is a modern-day evil that impacts every aspect of society from economy to geography. In a phase, where a child should be studying and gaining skills, we find them working out a ‘chai ki tapri’ or in a hazardous factory. As per UNICEF, there are 5.6 million boys and 4.5 million girls working as child labourers in India. According to a report of UNICEF published in June 2021, child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, which holds an increase of 8.4 million in just the last 4 years. International Labour Organisation in a report “Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward” warns that the effort to end child labour has stalled for the first time in the last 20 years. Child labour took a steep rise due to the prevalent pandemic; a whole lot of continuous efforts also took a hit due to COVID 19.
The main objective of this article is to shed a light on the role of education to abolish child labour. But first, let us discuss why do we have the concept of child labour? The Answer relied on economic issues mostly but other factors also contributed to this. Children are being forced into labour due to poverty, lack of education and exploitation by others which include trafficking for ‘beggars’.
Legal provisions to end child labour in India
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
The Government of India Passed a law back in 1986 to tackle child labour in India and Recently, in 2016 an amendment was passed to make it more strict, due to this a complete prohibition has been imposed on the employment of children under 14 years of age. The Act also prohibits the employment of children in certain occupations and processes and these occupations are mentioned under the Schedule in Part A.
The constitution of India gives us a number of provisions and an amendment have also been done in the constitution to increase the welfare and right of children. 86th Constitutional Amendment made the right to education a fundamental right for children. These provisions include:
- Article 21A, which gives right to free elementary education.
- Article 24 gives Right to protection till the age of 14 years from any kind of hazardous employment.
- Article 39(e) protects children from any kind of abuse or forced employment.
- Article 39(f) says that the children must be provided with equal opportunities, facilities, freedom, dignity and protection
- Article 45 gives provisions for early childhood care and education to the children till the age of 6 years.
- Article 51A(k) put up a duty on parent and guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child between the age of 6 and 14 years.
Education and Child Labour
Education is the key ingredient in any country’s social and economical development. Education provides a stage for the children of a nation to develop themselves and contribute to the nation’s wellbeing. Similarly, education is a crucial element to abolishing child labour from the ground level. It is the most effective solution to this problem. The basic reason for this issue is poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. With all the provisions given in the Indian statutes and constitution, it is clear that education is everyone’s right.
The law is not at mistake here but the access to education is lagging behind. In India even though it is a fundamental duty of parents to provide education to their wards but oftentimes we see, it is the parents who force their child into child labour, the main reason for this is poverty. So, to break this vicious cycle of poverty there should be proper and appropriate means to access the very thing that could solve this problem i.e., education. The government of India started “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” or SSA which aimed at elementary education in India and the government also made free and compulsory education for children up to the age of 14 years. Apart from this, there are other programmes which aimed at the access to education,
- Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat
- Beti Bacha Beti Padhao
- Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalya
- Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha
Due to COVID-19, UNICEF and ILO called for a series of commitments to reverse the upward trends in child labour, one of them is to ‘Increased spending on quality education and getting all children back into school – including children who were out of school before the pandemic’
Education is often considered as formal schooling but that is actually devaluing the whole learning process, non-formal education helps get back that gap in access to education. Child labourers have other issues like poverty, documents, and family, so non-formal education is more suitable. This type of education is short-term & non-credential based, runs in a short cycle or recurrent, output centric, individualised, environment-based, community-related, flexible, learner-centred and resource-saving. Street smart children often turn out successful. Hence, the goal should be to deliver education and not only formal education.
As COVID-19 pushed more children into child labour in India and around the globe, a unified strategy is needed on the federal level as well to properly handle this issue. It is not only the government’s responsibility but ours as well. Parents need to understand that if they force their child into labour, then it is only getting worse for them. We have to provide a good mix of formal and non-formal education systems, especially for those who can’t overcome the barriers to education. Even though boys are more prone to this practise but we can’t deny the girls their basic educational rights too.
UNICEF and ILO are advising every nation to curb this practice, but solving this issue is a gradual process and we cannot overcome this overnight. Former Chief Justice of India, Justice Subba Rao once said, “Social justice must start with the child. Until and unless a tender plant is properly tended and nourished, it has a small chance of growing into a strong and useful tree. So, the first preference in the plate of justice should be stated to the well-being of children”.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.
The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.
If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at email@example.com