Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 12:
India has the largest child population in the world. Over one-third of India’s population of 1.21 billion people are children, which means India is home to 400 million children. Childhood is the most crucial and formative period of human life. Exclusion from essential services and goods such as adequate food, health care and schooling clearly affects children’s ability to participate in their communities and societies in both the present and the future.
In India children are more vulnerable to exploitation, sexual abuse, trafficking, forced to work, married before attaining the legal age, victims of malnutrition, and lot more and their problems were unheeded, their rights were ignored, unrecognized till a convention of children was called by United Nation & first time in the globe child rights was defined, identified, emphasized and Convention on Rights of the Child was passed unanimously.
Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.
UNCRC article 24 says, The Government should protect children from work that is dangerous, or that might harm their health or their education.
Constitution of India says No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
Present Situation : Odisha Context
- After Supreme Court direction during 1997 a survey was conducted by Labour Department and could identify only 214027 Child labour. And after that no State wide survey has been conducted.
- State Labour Institute has identified 400399 Child labourers in only 18 NCLP Districts during 2004-2007.
- No household survey has been undertaken by Department of Labour to identify Child labour even after prohibition of engagement of child labour in domestic sector under CLPRA.
- Various sources both at Government level and Non-Government level claims the number differently. It is a fact that last twenty years has shown a decreasing trend of child labour, but, still a large number of children are engaged in labour force and further the child labour in unorganized sector is on increasing trend.
The Census 2011 gives following data:
|State||Age-Group||Main workers||Marginal workers||Total|
|< 3months||3-6 months|
Child labour within the age group of 15-18 years is still very high. As per Census 2011 within 15-19 years of age group there are total 1225974 child labours including 453042 numbers as main workers and 772932 are marginal workers.
The enforcement of the provisions in Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act is very poor.
Between the year 2007-13
- 835 children rescued from employment
- 416 prosecutions were made
- Only 8 employers were convicted
Children rescued from workplace were admitted into National Child Labour Project schools in the State. Now the scheme is already closed by the Govt. of India. During closer of NCLP schools, although 1030 NCLP special schools were sanctioned, only 618 schools were functioned with enrolment of 28840 children. 123899 children had been mainstreamed through NCLP Schools.
Recently, government of Odisha, Department of Labour has developed a state plan of action for elimination of child labour, which needs to be implemented in letter and spirit and for this adequate budget, must be allocated.
Free and compulsory education of good quality up to the minimum age for admission to employment is a key tool in ending child labour. Attendance at school removes children in part at least from the labour market and lays the basis for the acquisition of employable skills needed for future gainful employment.
The World Day Against Child Labour this year is focusing particularly on the importance of quality education as a key step in tackling child labour. It is very timely to do so, as in 2015 the international community will be reviewing reasons for the failure to reach development targets on education and will be setting new goals and strategies.
On this year’s world Day against Child Labour we call for,
- Free, compulsory and quality education for all children at least to the minimum age for admission to employment and action to reach those presently in child labour;
- New efforts to ensure that national policies on child labour and education are consistent and effective;
- Policies that ensure access to quality education and investment in the teaching profession.
PECUC – National Centre for Child Rights