Bhopal: Government claims to provide all facilities to ensure children should go to schools. But it remains an uncomfortable reality that many children are deprived of their childhood as they are forced to take up odd jobs just to support the financial needs of their families.
Free Press came across such an instance where an entire family, including minors, was found to be engaged in carrying electric lights in marriage processions. This is not a one off case in fact it is a common sight across Bhopal as minor children are found engaged in odd jobs during school hours.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had appealed all—government agencies, media, teachers, to ensure that children should attend the school under “School Chale Hum”. But such practice kill object of School Chale Hum and deprives the children of their childhood.
Parents of Below the Poverty line (BPL) families press their minor children into various jobs to ward of their financial difficulties. The head of one such family Mohanlal said, “My entire family is engaged in light decoration of marriage procession. I allow my children to carry lights in marriage procession for sake of extra income. It is justified to train children to be employed but hard work is not justified from any angle.”
Though some of them do not discontinue their studies but is their childhood is surely far from normal. A member of family which depends on their chidlren’s work, Sangita Kushwah said, “Just to increase family income, we press our children into such job. In day time, children also go to school and simultaneously they support us financially. It is important for them to know how to earn is more important in life.”
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) state head Rahul Dutt Sandhir said, “District administration keep taking action against the child labour. Public awareness is needed to check the child labour in the state. Voluntary organizations are expected to be on the vigil on such practice. At very young age if children are engaged labour to support their families is not justified. They should be motivated to join the schools for a better career and childhood.”
Government scheme and legal provisions
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) state head Rahul Dutt Sandhir said, “ICDS which is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare to children less than 6 years of age and issues like child labour. In addition to the constitutional prohibition of hazardous child labour, various laws in India, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide the legal basis to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.”
Financial needs of families and child labour
UNICEF, international labour organisation (ILO) and spreading smiles through education organisation (OSSE) suggests that poverty is the greatest single force driving children into the workplace. According to their data the income from a child’s work is felt to be crucial for his/her own survival or for that of the household. For some families, income from their children’s labour is between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the household income.