Despite the recent adoption of the Right to Education Act, 19 per cent of the children in the age group of 6 to 18 years surveyed in Jaipur by Pratham Rajasthan have been found to be out of school, and 67 per cent of such children are not working anywhere. Eight per cent of the total children are working, with half of them employed in hazardous industries.

With these findings of a survey under a national campaign, “I want a teacher too…”, Pratham Rajasthan – a group promoting primary education in the desert State – said here on Saturday that working children comprised the “most vulnerable group” among the out-of-school children. A total of 24,664 children were surveyed in the Capital city during September and October last year.

Pratham’s State head, child protection, Vijay Shekhawat, said the larger survey was conducted across 46 difficult areas in Jaipur and 32 in Bikaner with the help of 888 and 555 volunteers, respectively, in the two cities. The national survey was conducted across eight cities in five States to identify out-of-school and working children of 6 to 18 years.

Mr. Shekhawat said the “I want a teacher too…” campaign was an attempt to collate, analyse, present and disseminate accurate data on the children falling in the two categories.

“There was a need to have accurate numbers and build a case on the exploitation of these children despite the presence of a number of laws, committees and commissions for them,” said Mr. Shekhawat, while pointing out that the lack of centralised authentic data had been one of the major challenges while working for strengthening of the primary education system.

The Pratham representative said the NGO, in the course of its work with the Government agencies, had found that the majority of the programmes and strategies were based on the magnitude of out-of-school and working children. Hence the need for the accurate statistics.

Sixty per cent of the children surveyed in Jaipur were between the age of 6 and 14. The main occupations of the working children were found to be casual work with gem and diamond industry and Zari units as well as vending.

In Bikaner, 31 per cent of the 6,747 surveyed children were out of school and 82 per cent of them were not working anywhere. The main sectors employing seven per cent of the surveyed children were the city’s papad industry, motor garages and brick kiln units.

Mr. Shekhawat said the children being out of school was an infringement of the Right to Education Act, while the children being forced to work was in violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.