Dropout rate high among children of labourers

An in-depth study by a child rights group has revealed that nearly 80 per cent of the children of migrant labourers do no go to school or drop out of educational institutions as they get sucked into labour along with their family.

The study carried out by CRY's (Child Rights and You) on ground partner Vanchit Vikas Sansthan (VVS) monitored children in 10 brick kilns in four talukas of Ahmednagar district to ascertain their status of health, nutrition and education.

The findings revealed, while state government RTE rules mention tracking systems monitoring drop-out rate and absentee children, till date there is no system to ensure the enrolment of children into school in the first place or keep a check that they do not end up as labourers.

The study noted: “Most of the children in and around the brick kiln areas get drawn into labour as they tend to help their parents by arranging the bricks for drying and collecting the broken and improperly moulded bricks.” Incidentally, while the government may tom-tom about the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (1986) the study found kids working in brick kilns which ironically has been identified as hazardous process under the same act with a stringent prohibition of employing children below 14 years of age.

CRY Western Regional Director Kreeanne Rabadi, commenting on the issue stated: “The situation is highly complex as the children are not directly employed. Their work helps to increase productivity of the adults they assist, which is necessary as wages are based on piece rates, rather than time spent at work. Therefore, the system operates in such a manner that children become natural partners in the process of brick production. As they grow older, they get pulled into full-time work, having already been trained at a young age.”

According to Rabadi, the loophole lies in the proposed Child Labour (P&R) amendment bill 2012, that aims to align the Child Labour (P&R) with the RTE Act, 2009, prohibiting children up to the age of 14 years in any form of work whether hazardous or non hazardous. Thus for children aged between 14-18 brick kiln is not at all hazardous.

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