Nearly 800 school students participated in the anti-child labour rally organised in the city on Tuesday and expressed their solidarity towards elimination of child labour in the State. Organised by the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and the Child Labour Elimination and Effective Rehabilitation Society (CHEERS), the participants raised slogans against employing children. Flagged off by N.R.Sivapathy, Minister for School Education, Youth Welfare and Sports, in the presence of S.T.Chellapandiyan, Minister for Labour Welfare, Jayashree Muralidharan, District Collector, M.Paranjothi, MLA, and A. Jaya, Mayor, the rally proceeded from E.R. Higher Secondary School to Bishop Heber Higher Secondary School.

Earlier, Mr.Sivapathy unveiled a hoarding that spelt out the punishment that would be meted out to anybody abetting child labour at the E.R. Higher Secondary School grounds. Ministers and government officials stuck anti-child labour stickers on their official vehicles to show their support for the cause.

“I'm not sure if this rally would mean anything to a child labourer working somewhere, but I am taking part because it tells the adults that robbing a child of his or her childhood is wrong,” said 13-year-old A.Arun Kumar one of the participants in the rally.

The participants were from E.R. Higher Secondary School, Joseph Higher Secondary School, Bishop Heber Higher Secondary School, Urumu Dhanalakshmi Higher Secondary School and students from schools run by CHEERS, said S.Pearline, project director, National Child Labour Project.

At the end of the rally, all students were given refreshments and were sent back to their respective schools, while ten former child labourers who had scored high marks in their class X and XII board exams were felicitated at the Collectorate by the Collector. Officials belonging to the Collectorate and Tiruchi Corporation undertook an anti-child labour pledge to mark the occasion.

Keywords: child labour