On World Day against Child Labour, NCPCR, ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO Herald Right to Education Act as means to end Child Labour in India

Child labor, can't we try to stop it?
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As the football World Cup in South Africa kicks off, globally 12 June was marked as the World Day Against Child Labour with an urgent appeal to “go for the goal-end child labour,” calling particular attention to the target of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016. In New Delhi, the National commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), ILO, UNICEF and UNESCO marked the World Day Against Child Labour by heralding India’s landmark Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) as an essential foundation to ensure that all children are in school and out of child labour. Education for all was unanimously agreed as a target towards reaching the goal of elimination of child labour, in addition to scaling up efforts through poverty reduction, social protection and building political commitment to tackling child labour.

“We welcome the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act that guarantees education as a fundamental right to each and every child. This ground-breaking Act provides the foundational building blocks to ensure that all children are in school and out of labour” said NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha during Saturday’s event that joined the Government, UN and corporate sectors to stand up against child labour.

There are millions of children and young people out-of-school in India. They are at risk of not only child labour, but also trafficking, child marriage and other abuses.

Some children are more vulnerable to labour than others. For example, girls are still less likely to enroll in school than boys, with even higher gender gaps for girls from Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC). India’s Mid-Decade Assessment of Education For All highlights the fact that close to half of children left school before reaching Grade 8 with higher drop-out rates for SC children (55 out of 100) and the highest for ST children (63 out of 100).

RTE provides a platform to reach the unreached, with specific provisions for child labourers and other disadvantaged groups, such as migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a “disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factor.”

“It is now imperative to identify and remove all financial obstacles to guarantee at least eight years of quality, equitable education and give families the support they urgently need so parents don’t need to send their children out to work but to school,” said Kevin St. Louis, Acting Representative for UNICEF.

Under RTE, education is a free entitlement for all children. Solutions must be found to end the cycle of poverty so that disadvantaged families don’t have to rely on their children’s earnings to survive.

“The International Labour Organization (ILO) is committed to supporting our tripartitie constituents i.e. government, employers’ and workers’ organizations in their efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour here in India and throughout the world by 2016,” said Andre Bogui, Acting Director for ILO’s Sub-Regional Office for South Asia. “RTE is a powerful tool to make sure that children are not working and in school where they belong and, decent work for adults, essential also to the overarching goal of the elimination of all child labour.”

Creative and sustained initiatives are crucial to train more than one million new and untrained teachers within the next five years and to reinforce the skills of existing teachers to ensure child-friendly education and prevent children from dropping out of school and going into labour. Teachers will also need specific training to help former child labourers mainstream into schools and catch up on missed learning. Substantial efforts are essential to eliminate disparities and ensure quality with equality.

“Citizens of the country, employers, corporations, all of us, must ralize that child labour deprives children of their fundamental right to education and is illegal,” said UNESCO New Delhi Director Armoogum Parsuramen. “Education is now everybody’s business.”

JOINT STATEMENT FROM CORPORATE BODIES

On behalf of Business Federations and the corporate sector, we express our solidarity and commitment to the initiatives and efforts to promote the right to free and compulsory education for all children. Today we are duty bound to ensure that no child is engaged in any form of work in any sector-formal or informal.

We recognize that there is an inextricable link between abolishing child labour and children enjoying their right to education in a full time formal school. Simply put, when a child is out of school, it is inevitable that the child is either already a part of the work force or will, sooner than late, be a part of the work force. When a child is in school, it is one way of ensuring that she/he is not part of the labour force and thus prevented from joining the labour pool.

It is important that all children in our country enjoy their right to education as guaranteed by the “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and mandated by the constitution of India.

We firmly believe that together with government and civil society it is possible and necessary to make education a reality for every child. With that in view, we dedicate ourselves to pledge our full support to all endeavours towards making education a reality for every child. Through sustained campaign and vigilant action we will work towards enhancing the freedom and dignity of every child and in making India a child labour free country.

YSK/SB/PLS
(Release ID :62517)

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