Child Labour Is Still Affecting The Education Of The Girl Child – Here’s How
As per the Census 2011, there are 10.1 million children in India, who are labourers, out of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. It is estimated that globally 152 million children are stuck as child labour and education is not an option that is easily accessible to them. Across India, you will be able to see children working in garment making factories, brick kilns, as domestic help and in food related places. Although there are several laws in place relating to child labour, it is still a prevalent evil.
- As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 (amended in 2016), a person below the age of 14 is considered a child and this act prohibits the employment of any child.
- The Factories Act of 1948 prohibit the employment of any ‘child’ in any factory.
- The Mines Act of 1952 prohibits the employment of anyone below the age of 18 to work in a mine.
Even though the numbers are declining, the decline is gradual and this is one of the biggest obstacles to getting them an education as well, creating a vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. As per a 2015 report by the International Labour Organisation or ILO, there were several findings:
- It was observed that there was a negative relation between the working of children aged 7 to 14 and the literacy rates in the age group of 15 to 24.
- Rural children are amongst the most affected.
- While both boys and girls are subjected to labour, girls are often downtrodden in terms of finances there as well – girls often double the work and half the income, because they have to handle chores in their own homes too.
- In case some children are able to go to school, despite having to work, only a minute percentage is able to fare well.
What are the main reasons that are still contributing to child labour?
- Poverty – Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for child labour to be still existent has to be poverty – families that have a lower income have to find more sources of income and having more people working is often the only solution. Children, as soon as they are of an age, where they can be productive, are often sent out to work and earn some amount.
- Illiteracy – When parents are not educated, they are not able to see the importance of educating their children and this then becomes a vicious cycle that is hard to break. It is often observed that it is children of uneducated parents who are often pushed into labour and menial jobs.
- Demand for unskilled labour – There are several jobs that need little to no skill or training and for such jobs, children are often considered the best options. Given that the salary for such jobs is also on the lower side, it is easier to hire children for such jobs.
- High cost of education – It is a sad truth that education is still expensive, especially in private institutions, which means that it might not be accessible to all.
- Gender discrimination – As much as we talk about equality and feminism, the fact remains that gender discrimination still exists and families would still prefer to send their sons to school rather than daughters, especially if there is a financial restriction.
What are the consequences of child labour and education?
- Let’s start with the loss of the quality of life that children deserve – at a time when they should be going to school or playing with their friends, they are often made to work, just so that they can bring home some money.
- There are bound to be health related issues – when children are pushed into work, the possibility of poor working conditions and a lack of proper nourishment will be high. When they are employed in firework factories or mines, health will deteriorate even further. And there is generally no guarantee in terms of nutritious food or even timely food, for that matter.
- With unfavourable working hours, no scope for any entertainment, chances of being bullied, child labour is definitely not easy on the mind.
- Because they are employed, they are not able to go to school and when they are not able to go to school, children will not only not learn important things in life, they will also become parts of the cycle of illiteracy. At Educate Girls, our attempts are always directed towards bringing girls, who might have been trapped in child labour, back to where they truly belong – schools!
What are the solutions?
Now that we have seen how child labour can affect a child, we also need to look at the impact of education in child labour – how education can truly transform the life of a child and what are the solutions to the problems.
- While not much can be done in regards with solving poverty, making education free till at least a certain level is possible. Thankfully, in India, education has been made free and compulsory as per Article 21-A, for children up to the age of 14.
- And while schooling might have been made free, it is important to pull the children back into school and keep them there as well – for this, schemes such as mid-day meals, free books and free sanitary products are all extremely helpful.
- There has to be a rethinking of the minimum age for employment and schooling should ideally be made compulsory till that age.
- The punishment for hiring and putting to work underage children needs to be made stricter and the enforcing of the same has to be overseen by the associated authorities.
- In order to facilitate better working conditions and options, after the age of 15, vocational or skill-based training can be provided.
- Special attention needs to be paid to the girl child, because the chances of her being neglected are higher. Organisations like Educate Girls, who are working in rural sectors to bring girls back to school need to be given encouragement and support. Volunteers who work with NGOs like these can help better educate parents on the effects of education and child labour and why their child needs to be in school, rather than a factory.
Apart from offering a chance of education to girls who might not have ever gone to school or had to stop due to any number of reasons, Educate Girls is also working towards creating an awareness about why girls need to get an education. The volunteers not only help the girls, they also work within the communities towards building a greater acceptance for education, especially of the girl child.
You too can play your part in all this – if you see a child being employed, report it to the authorities and offer the always needed support to organisations like Educate Girls.
Posted on March 25, 2023