“Education is the best antidote to child labour”

Interview with Shantha Sinha, anti-child labour activist and founder of MV Foundation

sreelatha

Sreelatha Menon | July 5, 2017


#poverty   #ILO conventions   #International Labour Organisation   #child labour   #India   #child rights   #RTE Act   #Shantha SInha  


How can we ensure that children taken away from labour will have a better future?

By making education a fundamental right. After enacting the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act), it is a state obligation to do all that is necessary to get a child to school. Indeed, the amendment to the Child Labour Act, 2016 complemented the RTE Act in prohibiting child labour in all its forms, making it unacceptable for children to work during school hours. 

Earlier, children used to learn weaving and spinning at home. Today, schemes like MGNREGA and lack of incentives have killed the traditional crafts.
 
I am more worried about children being exploited, made to suffer, even lose their health or their lives, as well as working on traditional crafts, than the fact that traditional crafts are being killed. 
 
There is a tendency to romanticise the whole issue of traditional crafts. It is often viewed that for centuries, traditional crafts sustained rural economy with efficiency which modern systems cannot achieve. As a result it is believed that initiating a child to the family profession as early as possible is beneficial to the child. Thus, not only does the child not have to waste time obtaining irrelevant educational inputs but he can also become a productive citizen and earn a living. This is not very different from the traditional social system where certain professions were earmarked for certain communities. 

 
The approach also divides the society into two broad categories: Those who can afford to wait for their children to equip themselves before they face the challenges of adulthood, and those who need to put their children to work as soon as possible so they do not become a burden on society. 
The first approach is often advocated by those who themselves would never think twice before sending their own children to school and who have no intention of reverting to their own family occupation.
 
The true nature of education is that it equips a person to make a calculated choice at the right time. It is this capacity of a child to decide his or her own future that we take away when we deny education in the name of providing secure employment. 
 
Gandhi and Tagore believed that knowledge came through medium of work. Our education on the other hand consists of bookish knowledge. So is there any use of taking children away from the farms where they learn to cultivate, to just reading and writing.
 
Such an argument is anti-poor child. Such a perspective has left a large number of children working in agriculture and allied activities either for an employer, or on a wage basis as bonded labourers or have been trafficked to faraway, unfamiliar workplaces.  
 
Gandhi and Tagore’s vision of work and education is meaningful only in the context of all children – both rich and poor – who have access to the same curriculum. Let’s recommend working in the farms for the rich children, if it is so valuable for one’s education and to get out of bookish learning.
 
 
 
 

Comments

 

Other News

"TV not in business of news; it is in the business of polarisation”

Television news these days has a loose relationship with truth, says senior journalist, columnist and author Vir Sanghvi, adding that it is not telling the truth and polarising opinions. In a live webcast with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, during the Visionary Talk series held by

How the colonial rulers combated “this insidious and growing danger” of dust and smoke

Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism: India, c. 1860-1940 By Awadhendra Sharan Orient BlackSwan, xxiv+320 pages, Rs 795 Air pollu

Unlocking the value of renewable energy assets through InVITs in India

India has been witnessing a sluggish demand growth for power amidst COVID-19. It has affected both thermal as well as renewable energy (RE) sector. While thermal sector (coal) plant load factor (PLF) is coming down continuously amidst no new generation building up, renewable energy held its ground through

“Proposed power amendments anti- people, favor licensees”

Maharashtra Veej Grahak Sanghatana, a state-level coordination committee of industrial associations and power consumers, has approached the state government for urgent intervention on key concerns after Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission on December 9 published the draft of the MERC (Electricity

Uddhav inaugurates largest tunnel boring machine for Mumbai Coastal Road

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has launched the largest tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Mumbai Coastal Road project at Priyadarshini Park, in Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai. Called Mavala, the TBM having the largest diameter and the first of its size to be used in the cou

Beyond open defecation: Tackling solid waste management issues

Antony Waste Handling Cell (AWHC) has been offering its services in handling municipal solid waste (MSW) across India for the past 19 years. When AWHC made its initial public offer (IPO) during December 21-23, it was subscribed 15 times. Why the sudden interest in this IPO? Did the market rightly and exped

Visionary Talk with Vir Sanghvi On the future of News Journalism





Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter