The other day the labour department people gave a surprise visit to our apartment. They went to all the flats to find out if there were any children below fifteen years being employed as house help.
We are all aware the goverment has banned child labour. When such children have been found they have been put into shelter homes and then they are enrolled into schools. This I really appreciate as I have always felt that education is the key towards development.
But at times doubt assails my mind. I just thought is this really working? Are children happy to be going to school? I mean if the child is say thirteen or fourteen then they have been working for a long time. Here I am talking only of househelp as I can associate with them more than children working in other sectors. Most of the time the story is the same. Children are forced to work to earn income for the family. Sometimes this would be the main source of income for the family. The man of the household generally does not contribute to the family's income. His money if at all he works goes into his liqour and gambling habits. Then a huge family needs to be looked after by the lady of the house.
Now if only the mother works it will not suffice considering the forever spiralling price. They will need as many hands as possible to earn for the family. So what happens when this source of income stops.
Is the government going to support such families till such time when these children finish atleast the minimum of tenth grade? Even then is there a guarantee that they will find jobs where they can help the family?
Also another thing I felt was, these children till now were used to a life with little or no rules . They would go and spend time after their work as they pleased. Now would it not be very difficult for them to sit in a class room and obey rules?The subjects that are taught in school might not interest most of them barring a few exceptions. They might feel how learning social studies , languages and science help them in future. A future which they can't comprehend on a long term basis. Theirs is a day to day sustenance.
The first step I feel is for the government to close down all the liquor shops. This I know they will not do as it is a big revenue stream for them. We have read in papers the women taking it upon themselves to forcibly close down these shops. They have understood the ill effects it is having on their family. Hopefully the man of the house would then start earning and contributing to the family income. This in turn might help them towards better living conditions. Only after this would they think of enrolling their children into schools. Once the little ones start going to school atleast that generation might have better awareness and slowly some of the schemes that the government plans for them, might help these children in future. Hope this shift happens soon.
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