TN government needs to conduct survey to identify children forced into labour, say activists

A study conducted by Campaign Against Child Labour has revealed that child labour, among vulnerable communities, has increased by nearly 280 per cent in the State during the pandemic

June 12, 2021 02:59 pm | Updated 02:59 pm IST - CHENNAI

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Photograph used for representational purposes only

On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch (TNCRW) and the Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) have asked the State government to form a committee to assess the number of children who have started to work during the pandemic and initiate steps to immediately enrol them in schools.

According to R. Karuppusamy, a study conducted by CACL has revealed that child labour, among vulnerable communities, has increased by nearly 280 per cent in the State during the pandemic. The study also found a big jump in the proportion of working children from 28.2 percent to 79.6 percent because of the impact of COVID-19 and school closure.

“We conducted a survey among 818 children across 24 districts in the state. Out of this 18.6 per cent of them also complained of some form of physical abuse at work. Districts like Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Ramanad and Madurai reported a higher incidence of child labour,” he added. He said that the government should conduct a survey with the help of NGOs. “The children should be enrolled in schools and their families should be provided with some schemes to earn a living so that they can come out of poverty and avoid sending their kids for work,” added Mr. Karuppusamy.

Andrew Sesuraj, convener, TNCRW, said that the Right to Education should be extended up to 18 years in order to ensure that every child up to 18 years are in school. “The schools should be opened in a phased manner following all COVID-19 protocols. This would help the education institutions to monitor and prevent children becoming child labourers, getting married and being trafficked,” he added.

He added that the government should regulate fee collection of private schools immediately as fleecing students with high fees during this pandemic will lead to an increase in drop outs and them becoming child labourers. “Besides, the school closure implemented in the name of merger of government schools should immediately be stopped and reversed,” he added.

Mr. Karuppusamy said that village/ward level child protection committees should be immediately strengthened and activated to ensure that every child in the community is brought under the child rights protection scanner. “All the children who lost either or both parents during this pandemic period be brought under the child protection net and ensure that they are provided continuous education opportunities,” he added.

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