Dear Listserv members, We are posting the following message as we feel it is an important and very relevant global issue that needs to be addressed. We would love to hear your opinions and feedback about the article. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to post as many of your responses as possible on the Asia Pacific Listserv. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, The Asia Pacific Listserv Team ------------------------------------ Article Source: The Times of India, Mumbai Author: Roli Srivastava Subject: Child Labour Date Of Issue: 19/5/2003 Title: Child labourers given lessons, then sent back to work A 12-year-old boy toils for hours in a brick kiln, sweating it out in the heat. Like him, over one million children work in the state, many in hazardous conditions, in sugarcane factories and power loom -industries banned under the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986. State officials aren't exactly cracking down on these units. Instead, they are organising two-hour study programmes or seminars for these working children, occasionally even teaching them about child rights. The irony appears lost on the state government, but child rights' organisations have started raising questions about the legitimacy of the state's non-formal education programmes. While not denying the importance of educating children, they contend that the state is over looking the children's rescue and rehabilitation. Activists say that in many cases, parents look upon the government programmes as a way out of sending their children to school. Hemant Bhamre, of Lok Vikas Samajik Sanstha in Nashik, points out that around 300 children dropped out of the municipal school in Nashikto enroll in the non-formal education classes. "Some parents think that their child can work while studying in these classes. This in fact encourages child labour," he says. Both the central and state governments have a handful of non-formal education schemes for children out of school. The state government's Mahatma Phule Yojana, the central government's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the labour ministry's Central Board for Workers Education offer non-formal education options for working children. The official line is that these "bridge" programmes help children join mainstream schools later. Dr. Vasant Kalapande, director of primary education with the state government's education department and project director of Sarva Shiksh Abhiyan, says, "Of 15 lakh* children identified as out of school, we could enroll 10 lakh in formal schools." But, there are complaints that the classes are conducted by under-qualified and underpaid teachers. The schemes also suffer because of poor infrastructure. Many classes are even held in the workplace of the child. On the other hand, the labour department-which is supposed to carry out rescue operations for children working in hazardous conditions-conducts two-day seminars for the children and their parents. Interestingly, the seminars are about 'child rights' The department justifies holding seminars for working children by hiding behind technicalities. "The Child Labour Act uses the term 'regulation' which means helping working children and parents about health, hygiene and their rights," says a labour department official. The department's responsibility ends with the seminars and NGOs are expected to follow up from there, he adds. But Alpa Vora, of Campaign Against Child Labour, says, "The solution lies in giving employment to the parents so that these children can stop working and study in formal schools." *1 lakh is a South Asian unit of measurement equal to 100 000 ======== Asia Pacific Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <email@example.com>. If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>. **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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