Indore: With their research, study and presentation of child labour conditions in the city, students of Shri Devi Ahilya Shishu Vihar won ‘World Day against Child Labour’ competition of Nukkad Natak/ Skit on ‘Human Rights and Social Justice for Child Workers’ organised by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for all its affiliated schools in the country.
Talking about the competition, drama director Dolly Bhawar said, “CBSE organises such competitions because they give schools an opportunity to connect students to real life conditions around them.” She explained that such researches and activities are must for moral development of students. “Students can’t be taught moral values through books, we have to show them reality and let them make the right choice of being helpful,” she added.
Sharing how the activity was conducted, student Anjali Billore said, “We visited various places in the city where children were doing petty jobs.” Students had visited Annapurna and Lal Bagh.
Sharing what they learnt during their visit, student Aditya Sisodiya said, “We interviewed all children asking them about reasons for doing these jobs.” He elaborated that children were initially scared to talk to them, but later shared their problems.
“Most of these children can’t afford their meals or school fees,” Shubrika Jain said. She elaborated that students did not even know that the government schools are providing free education. “Some students also quoted that government schools are also charging some nominal fees, which their parents can’t afford,” she added.
Discussing life of these children, student Nitish Verma said, “I felt hurt because they are just like us and are forced to work as labour.” Bringing forward another point of view, he explained that jobs are their way of earning their livelihood. “They are learning skills and able to feed themselves with these jobs, so taking that way would be cruel too,” he added.
Elaborating on the necessity of jobs for them, student Ishika Jain said, “They can barely earn their bread from their jobs, how can we ask them to quit that and go to school!” She explained that nobody can study on empty stomach, which is the case with these children.
Quoting how they reacted to their conditions, student Amogh Parmar said, “I wish I could do something for them, so we invited them to attend our school.” He elaborated that simple act of kindness like taking extra classes for them might help.
Sharing his feelings, student Aashutosh Chouhan said, “They are the same as we are, then why should not they have proper uniform, books and food, I can’t understand that.” He elaborated that school education reinforces India as a nation of equality and freedom, but though these children are free, they are entangled in these unseen bondages.
Bringing an idea forward, student Suhani Gholak said, “Instead of asking them to quit their jobs, we should be looking for a way to fund their education and teaching them skills that empowers them to earn their livelihood.”
No students to teach
Students staged a play revolved around children who are forced into labour and unsafe conditions. The story revolved around a teacher who goes looking for students, when she finds her class empty. She finds students doing different jobs and being hit by their owners. The painful condition of children disheartens her. Play concludes with a song about condition of these little Indian children, who are unable to live their childhood and are ignored by the authorities.
“There have been govt policies for helping children, but benefits are not reaching these children. They are working for getting Rs 50 in a day, which can barely buy a meal.”
“Kids are working wherever they are getting a job, but they do not have a choice. Government has plans only, there is no help for them.”
“I have seen kids working hard in fruit markets and not even getting paid for it. They have equal rights like us to study and make their future. We need help from the government.”
“During our visit, we asked children about their work, which they do not like it. It hurts them, but that is the only way they can get food.”
“My family even tried to help kids who were unable to pay their fee. The problem is that they are not willing to study further, because they have been taught to earn from very tender age.”
“I have seen kids who are working in small shops. Shop owners hit them regularly but they can’t quit because some of them don’t even have parents.”
I felt proud when I saw students understand their problems and react logically. They can feel sympathy and are willing to bring a change in their condition, which points to a better future, as some of them are likely to be government officials.”
Aparna Vyas, Vice principal