Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
In all 11,431 child labourers have been mainstreamed into regular schools between 2014 to 2017 in the state under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), with the number of children being mainstreamed each year during this period seeing a decline.
While the state labour department suggests that the number of child labourer has steadily reduced over the period due to rigorous enforcement, rescue, and rehabilitation efforts taken by the government, activists say there is no solid evidence for the same.
“The unorganised sector, including the stone quarry, brick kilns, and the construction sector, to date have children as young as 10 working along with their parents. Earlier, these used to be kids of the local people, now these are kids of migrants. Such incidents go unrecorded,” said R Geetha, of Federation of Unorganised Workers.
Under the NCLP scheme, children working in hazardous industries are rescued and enrolled in special training centres that are spread across the 15 districts. Eventually, these children are mainstreamed into regular schools. In Tamil Nadu, the number of these special training centres saw an increase to 321, as per state records.
According to figures released in the Lok Sabha, the number of children mainstreamed into regular schools in Tamil Nadu, under the NCLP scheme, were 4492, 4089, and 2850, in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.
But activists also point out the lacuna that has come with the amendment made to the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, in 2016. “The state definitely has a lower incidence of child labour as compared to other states but to say that it has come down can’t be said with conviction. With the Act making it clear that a 14-year-old kid can be employed in an establishment. Also, a kid can work in a family establishment and after schools. With such leniency, the incidence will come down as the definition of child labour has been changed,” said Virgil D’sami, executive director of Arunodaya.
Read Times of India (Source) article here.