“Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
June 12 is observed worldwide as ‘World Day Against Child Labour’. The UN General Assembly had unanimously adopted a resolution to declare the year 2021 as the international year for the elimination of child labour. It urged the international community to step up for the cause.
According to the Internation Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates, there has been a 38% decline in child labour globally between 2000 and 2006. Over the past 20 years, almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour. However, there are still 160 million children are in child labour, who need help and support.
The theme of 2021, “Act Now: End Child Labour” presents an opportunity to drive actions, share experiences and propel momentum to end child labour by 2025, and forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery by 2030.
What is child labour?
When a child or an adolescent engages in a hazardous activity that may be threatening to their life or health, it is termed child labour. The International Labour Organization defines ‘child labour’ as a work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, dignity, and is harmful to physical and mental development. Such activities also deprive them of the opportunity to continue their education.
However, not all the activities or work done by children can be termed child labour. A work that does not affect health and personal development or interfere with a child’s schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. These include helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business, or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays.
According to ILO, these kinds of activities contribute to children’s development, adds skills and experiences while also helping them to prepare to be productive members of society during their adult life.
However, one must be careful in calling a work ‘child labour’ as it is dependent on the child’s age, time and hours of work performed, and the condition in which the child works.
Causes of child labour
Child labour may take place for several reasons, for eg, poor financial condition, weak education system, customs, gender issues, child trafficking, and so on.
According to ILO statistics, 70% of children in child labour work in agriculture, and a third of children in child labour are completely outside the education system, while the ones who attend, perform badly.
How to end child labour
The solution to child labour is legal commitment, promotion of decent work for adults and younger people, social protection, access to education, and addressing of child-related issues. Different nations have been working to eradicate this bane from their land.
In India, the government has formulated rules, and platforms to govern, monitor, and prevent activities related to child labour.
Initiatives of the Government
In India, legal frameworks like the Child Labour Amendment (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016, prohibit the engagement of children, and adolescents in all hazardous occupations and processes.
National Child Labour Project
Deepak, a school dropout, worked in a stone quarry. The Ministry of Labour and Employment rescued Deepak in 2019. He was timely identified and rescued by the NCLP survey team which also convinced his parents to enroll him in a special training centre under the NCLP scheme. Deepak completed his schooling with flying colours and is now pursuing an engineering course.
The National Child Labour Project (NCLP), a central sector scheme aims to eliminate all forms of child labour, contribute to the withdrawal of all adolescent workers from hazardous occupations, and raise awareness among stakeholders and target communities.