TAMIL NADU

Strategies to be evolved for child labour elimination

CHENNAI SEPT. 6. In a build-up to the implementation of the Indo-USDOL child labour project in Tamil Nadu, a district-level workshop among stakeholders is being conducted at Tiruvallur, near here, on September 11.

Members of non-governmental organisations, bonded labour families and their employers, District Collectors and the Labour department officials will participate.

From the discussions, suitable strategies for implementation will be drawn up, said Surina Rajan, project manager. ``This is the preparatory stage, a lot of awareness is yet to be generated and resources need to be mobilised.''

The INDO-USDOL project is a technical cooperation venture of the Government of India, Ministries of Labour and Education and the United States Department of Labour. Child labour in 10 hazardous sectors has been identified as a primary focus area.

The project, executed by the International Labour Office, will have a $ 40-million budget with equal contributions from both governments. A joint statement was signed on August 31, 2000. It will be implemented in five districts each of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Namakkal, Tiruvallur and Viruduhnagar have been proposed for implementation for their high visibility of working children in the 10 sectors, according to an initial project proposal. To coordinate the project, state steering committees have already been set up. A State-level resource cell has also been activated.

In the first component of the project, child labourers will be identified and a profile developed. Those in the age group 9-13 will then be withdrawn from employment and enrolled in transit schools. Project managers will also train teachers through governmental or NGO institutions and developing teaching materials. Mainstreaming of children will take place within 12-18 months and follow-up will be undertaken by the steering committee members.

``A key component of the project is the follow-up. Teachers at schools are too busy to do this. At best, they can provide a list of children who have dropped out,'' said an official.

Another important aspect is that monitoring of the child does not stop once it turns 14. ``For adolescents from 14 to 17, vocational training in local crafts and marketing skills will be developed. As an incentive, a monthly stipend will be provided,'' said the report.

Family support

Realising that any child labour elimination programme cannot be successful without the support of families, the INDO-USDOL has included a self-employment component for them. Self-help groups will be formed and women trained in entrepreneurship activities. Managers of the National Child Labour Project will oversee this part of the programme.

Alongside the project activities, an intense advertising campaign would be conducted to prevent further child labour, said an official.

The first meeting in Tamil Nadu to draw up an action plan is scheduled to take place in Tiruvallur district. However, the Tamil Nadu Government has still not received official sanction for the INDO-USDOL project from the Centre, according to a senior official.

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