NCPCR, ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO Herald RTE as Means to End Child Labour in India
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NCPCR, ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO Herald RTE as Means to End Child Labour in India

NEW DELHI, India, 12 June 2010 – The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), ILO, UNICEF, UNESCO and the corporate sector marked the World Day Against Child Labour by heralding India’s landmark Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) as the foundation to ensure that all children are in school and out of child labour.

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Education for all was unanimously agreed as a target towards 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.

 “We welcome the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act that guarantees education as a fundamental right to each and every child. This ground-breaking Act provides the foundational building blocks to ensure that all children are in school and out of labour,” said NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha during Saturday’s event that joined the Government, UN and corporate sector to stand up against child labour.

There are currently an estimated 8.1 million children and young people out-of-school in India. They are at risk of not only child labour, but also trafficking, child marriage and other abuses.

“Child labour is a blot on our society and each one of us should fight against this inhuman practice, widely prevalent in homes and at workplaces,” said Mrs. Anu Aga of of the company Thermax. “I urge employers of small and large enterprises, and our citizens, to resolve not to employ children and not to encourage child labour, directly or indirectly. I condemn the perpetuation of this unjust tradition that instead of nurturing and investing in our children, consigns them to lives of despair and degradation. Together, we should protest against this practice, anywhere and everywhere – be it with suppliers or contractors, neighbours or relatives.”

Some children are 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 (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC). 

India’s Mid-Decade Assessment of Education For All highlights the fact that close to half of children left 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).

RTE 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.” 

“It is now imperative to identify and remove all financial obstacles to guarantee at least eight  years of quality, equitable education and give families the support they urgently need so parents don’t need to send their children out to work but to school,” said Kevin St Louis, acting Representative for UNICEF India. 

Under RTE, education is a free entitlement for all children. Solutions must be found to end the cycle of poverty so that disadvantaged families don’t have to rely on their children’s earnings to survive. 

“The International Labour Organization (ILO) is committed to supporting our tripartite constituents i.e. government, employers’ and workers’ organizations in their efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour here in India and throughout the world by 2016,” said André Bogui, Acting Director for ILO’s Sub-Regional Office for South Asia.

“RTE is a powerful tool to make sure that children are not working and in school where they belong. Decent work for adults is also essential to the overarching goal of the elimination of all child labour.”

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 going into labour. Teachers will also need specific training to help former child labourers mainstream into schools and catch up on missed learning. Substantial efforts are essential to eliminate disparities and ensure quality with equity. 

“Citizens of the country, employers, corporations, all of us, must realize that child labour deprives children of their fundamental right to education and is illegal,” said UNESCO New Delhi Director Armoogum Parsuramen. “Education is now everybody’s business.”

For media queries and more information:

Angela Walker
Chief, Advocacy & Partnerships, UNICEF
Tel: +91-98-1810-6093

Rekha Beri
Documentalist and Public Information, UNESCO
Tel: +91-11-26713000

Neelam Agnihotri
Communication and Public Information Officer, ILO
Tel: +91-11-24602101-02-03 Ext. 221

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