Education Against Child Labour in India
According to UNICEF, there are a total of 10.1 million child labourers in India, out of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. Education remains one of the core factors to combat this form of abuse against children in India and globally.
What encompasses ‘child labour’?
According to The International Labor Organization (ILO) child labor is “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” In India itself, this means child labourers who work in various industries- from household exploitation, to brick or carpet making factories, food services, agriculture and evening mining. Apart from these, millions of children are also exploited in other forms such as online.
Why are children forced into labour?
Having child labourers is a complex socio- economic issue, that innocent children have to bear the brunt of. Children are forced into labour due to many factors, mainly poverty, lack of access to decent education, emergency crises, or straight up forced exploitation by others.
Is there a silver line in the form of laws that ban child labour in India?
In 1993, the Indian government passed a law prohibiting dangerous work or activities that could harm the mental, spiritual, moral or social development of girls and boys under the age of 18. In 2006 and in 2016, the law was made stricter to ensure that children under the age of 14 were prohibited from working as domestic help or service staff in restaurants and hotels. However, unfortunately, child labour still remains very much prevalent in India.
What role does education have in preventing child labour in India?
Apart from obvious steps like ensuring the proper implementation of laws against child labourers in India and at the individual even reporting exploiters, education has a major role to play to help stop many children fall into the cycle of child labour.
Access to education is vital to break the vicious cycle of poverty and child labour, something that Turn the Bus deeply understands and work towards. In India, even though education is compulsory for children up to the age of 14, it is often their parents who force them into some form of ‘work’ (child labour). However, when children in poverty are educated and gain access to better work opportunities, it helps break the cycle of poverty and stops further generations from being exploited as children. Even in the immediate term, children who gain access to the school system, are often protected from child labour and exploitation when teachers are actively playing the role of child protecters.
As the the pandemic has pushed more children into child labour in India, stakeholders in the education system need to introspect the key role that they play in possibly saving millions of lives fall into child labour.