Coimbatore

A former bonded labour bats for those still in clutches of poverty

Gopal wants to become an IAS officer, help child labourers get back to school and lead a normal life like him. The teenager from Venanthur near Rasipuram, in Namakkal District, was just 11-year-old when he had to drop out of school to become a bonded labourer.

His parents Subramani (61) and Vijaya (49) worked at a handloom unit. They managed their elder daughter’s marriage with savings and the second daughter’s with loan. “They had no money for my third sister’s marriage. “I was in Standard V, when I volunteered to work at a power loom unit near our house (for Rs. 15,000) for three years,” he said and that money helped in the marriage of his sister.

While working he attended the Indus Child Labour Project School for school dropouts for two hours a day. The turning point in his life was when his differently abled elder brother S. Kathirvel, a government school student, scored 491 marks in the SSLC exam in 2009 for which he got a government scholarship.

“He paid money to release me from the bond and helped me join Standard VIII at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Vennanthur, where he studied in 2009,” Gopal recalls. By now he had taken a three year break from formal schooling. In the SSLC exam he scored 94.2 per cent and 95.33 per cent in Plus Two.

While this score did not help him pursue MBBS like his brother, he got a government quota engineering seat in top colleges. But he preferred agriculture. He is now in the 4th semester at the Agriculture College and Research Institute at Thoothukudi. Gopal has also helped his friend in the part-time school for child labourers S. Sekar (19) to get back to school.

With his heart beating for those forced to work in their tender years, Gopal on completion of academics and on entering the service wants to ensure that child labourers got their right to education.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:55:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/A-former-bonded-labour-bats-for-those-still-in-clutches-of-poverty/article14417376.ece

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