Joint Statement by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO
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Joint Statement by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO

On 12 June 2010 – World Day Against Child Labour on the theme
Go for the goal – End Child Labour

The World Day Against Child Labour comes at a critical juncture in the global campaign against child labour and the goal of ending its worst forms by 2016. As millions of people around the world get ready for the action of the football World Cup in South Africa, we make an urgent appeal to “go for the goal: end child labour.”

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In India, NCPCR along with ILO, UNICEF and UNESCO, unanimously agree that realisation of children’s right to education is crucial for reaching the goal of elimination of child labour, in addition to scaling up efforts through poverty reduction, social protection and building political commitment to tackling child labour.

In this context, we welcome the enactment of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act that guarantees education as a fundamental right to each and every child. Education for all is now a legal right for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. This ground-breaking RTE Act provides the building blocks to ensure that all children are in school and out of labour. 

Today, close to half of children leave school before reaching Grade 8 -- with higher drop-out rates for SC children (55 out of 100) and the highest for ST children (63 out of 100). 

Children who are out of school are either part of the labour pool or at risk of child labour, along with trafficking, early marriage and other violations. Right to Education Act provides a platform to reach the unreached, with specific provisions for child labourers and other disadvantaged groups, such as migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a “disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factors.” 

Although there have been significant improvements in the proportion of children from disadvantaged groups in school, persistent gaps remain. Some children are still more vulnerable to labour than others. For example, girls are still less likely to enroll in school than boys, with even higher gender gaps for girls from Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, highlights the fact that.

RTE recognizes that specific and concerted efforts are required to bring each and every one of these children back into school.  It mandates that out-of-school children must be mainstreamed into formal schools at the age appropriate level with the necessary support to succeed and that children will no longer face any form of discrimination that may impinge on their learning and development. This support ensures that children are learning instead being engaged in labour.

Although, RTE marks a celebration for the future, it also marks the present challenge in meeting the goal of ending child labour.  By mandating quality, child-centred learning, free from fear and anxiety, that supports the holistic development of children, RTE promises that children will remain in school and not be part of the labour force. 
Creative and sustained initiatives are crucial to train more than one million new and untrained teachers within the next five years and to reinforce the skills of existing teachers to ensure child-friendly education and prevent children from dropping out of school and being engaged in labour.

Teachers will also need specific training to help former child labourers mainstream into schools and catch up on missed learning.

Families and communities also have a large role to play to ensure that RTE becomes a reality for each and every one of the estimated 190 million girls and boys in India who should be in elementary school today.

School Management Committees, made up of parents, local authorities, and teachers, will need to not only form school development plans to identify gaps and actions to meet RTE provisions, but must also reach out to the unreached, bringing child labourers into school and giving them support.

India’s past achievements in education indicate it is possible to reach the goals set forth in RTE. In order to reach this goal, substantial efforts are essential to eliminate disparities and ensure quality education with equity.

In addition, all labour laws must be aligned to seamlessly ensure legal provisions of RTE. Strong mechanisms must be set up to prosecute violations.  Citizens of the country, employers, corporations, all of us, must realize that child labour, depriving children of their fundamental right to education, is illegal.  Education is now everybody’s business.

Today, we reiterate our commitment to end child labour and ensure the right to quality education. We join hands with governments, corporations, communities, civil society, with children themselves and with all those who are dedicated to a brighter future of India.

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