Child Labour

Child labour remains one of the most pressing issues globally, affecting millions of children and depriving them of their childhood, education, and the chance for a better future.
Despite international conventions and national laws aimed at eradicating this scourge, it persists due to a complex interplay of poverty, lack of education, and inadequate enforcement of regulations.

The term “child labour” refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children. It interferes with their schooling, depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 152 million children are engaged in child labour worldwide, with 72 million performing hazardous work.

The underlying causes of child labour are multifaceted. Poverty remains the most significant factor, compelling children to work to support their families. In many developing countries, education systems are often inadequate or inaccessible, pushing children into the workforce. Cultural factors also play a role, where societal norms might not view child labor as inherently wrong or detrimental.

Governments worldwide recognize the urgent need to address child labor and have implemented various measures to combat this issue. One significant step is the ratification of international conventions such as the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. These conventions set global standards for the minimum age of employment and aim to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, prostitution, and hazardous work.

Nationally, countries have enacted laws and regulations to prevent child labor. For instance, in India, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, amended in 2016, prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and adolescents (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations. The law also regulates the working conditions of adolescents in non-hazardous sectors to ensure their safety and well-being.

Beyond legislation, enforcement is crucial. Many countries have established dedicated task forces and labor inspectorates to monitor and enforce child labor laws. In India, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme is a government initiative aimed at rescuing and rehabilitating child laborers. Under this scheme, children withdrawn from work are enrolled in special training centers where they receive education, vocational training, and healthcare.

Education is a powerful tool in combating child labour. Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to improve access to quality education for all children.
Programs providing free and compulsory education, scholarships, and midday meals help reduce the economic burden on families and encourage school attendance.

Public awareness campaigns play a vital role in changing societal attitudes towards child labor. Media campaigns, community outreach programs, and collaboration with local leaders and influencers help educate the public about the adverse effects of child labor and the importance of education.

Related Articles