In spite of the laws to protect children against abuse and forced labour, there are many who are exploited and denied the right to education. Issues such as this that hinder the rightful implementation of the Right to Education Act were discussed at a three-day national convention on child rights that got under way here on Monday. As many as 125 child domestic workers from 11 States are participating in the programme, being organised by the National Domestic Workers Movement that aims to orient them to their various rights.

Member of Parliament B.S. Gnanadesikan underscored the need for more neighbourhood schools to ensure that education is accessible to every child. Strict vigilance committees at taluk and district levels formed with co-ordinated efforts of the police and community are needed to prevent child trafficking activities, he added.

The speakers stressed that many children below the age of 14 are forced into domestic work, and exploited in many ways.

“Children need, at least, 10 years of uninterrupted, meaningful education,” said Girija Kumarababu, Joint Secretary, Indian Council for Child Welfare.

Emphasising the need for inclusive growth, International Labour Organisation project manager Marcus Selva Ananth said that the society has to follow a participative approach that involves everyone's views in policy making and implementation.

Since child labour is a socio-economic problem, concerted efforts from different sections of the community were needed to abolish it, said Saidai P. Ravi, Opposition leader in the Chennai Corporation Council.

UNICEF Child Protection specialist R. Vidya Sagar, Virgil D' Samy, director, Arunodhaya Centre for street and working children, and U.S. Consul-General Andrew T. Simkin spoke.

The children presented a cultural programme comprising folk-dances of their respective States.