Deputy CM of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi along with Deputy Country Representative, UNICEF India, Mr. Kunihiko Chris Hirabayashi, and other dignitaries release the Bihar State Plan of Action for Child Protection, Rescue and Rehabilitation.
PATNA, India, November 4, 2009 – To eradicate child labour and ensure rehabilitation of rescued children, the Bihar State Government has released a ’State Plan of Action for Child Protection, Rescue and Rehabilitation’.
The all-new state plan unveiled by the deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi seeks the complete elimination of child labour in the state and create an enabling environment for all the children attending school.
The plan also envisages proper nurturing and over all mental, physical and moral development of every child in the state.
“Child labour is a black spot on Bihar’s face. The Government of Bihar has taken a firm resolve to eliminate child labour in the state,” said Mr. Modi in his address to the gathering of key Government functionaries, civil society, UN agencies, international NGOs and children.
“We want to ensure that all the children in Bihar are in school and not earning their livelihood by being employed as child labour. This is especially significant since illiteracy is one the root problems of child labour,” said Mr. Modi
Modi added that the while 2.1 million children were out of the school in 2006, the number has now come down to 0.4 million in Bihar.
“The government has already appointed 212,000 teachers while another 70000 teachers are going to be appointed soon to ensure education for all children in the state. We are committed to providing free books to all the students in the coming year,”
“For Muslim children, we have established 224 Talim-e-Markhaza while 7,141 Utthan centres have been established for Maha Dalit communities,” the minister said.
Mr. Kunihiko Chris Hirabayashi, Deputy Country Representative, UNICEF, said that candles lit by children in the hall should be ‘candles of hope’ for children employed as child labourers in Bihar.
“The commitment of the Government of Bihar to eradicate child labour in Bihar is praiseworthy and the success of this programme depends on how all of us can work in close collaboration,” he said.
Mr. Hirabayashi added that putting children in school does not by itself resolve all the problems associated with child labour.
Mr. Hirabayashi and ILO country head, Preet Verma highlighted the work done by ILO and UNICEF in helping the state government eradicate child labour in the state.
Vyas ji Mishra, Principal Secretary, Labour Resources Department, Govt. of Bihar, said that the government will be striking at the root of child labour in the state.
“This is a very significant step by the Government of Bihar and we are very grateful to all the stakeholders who have made this day possible.
“We are determined to implement the law. The Department of Labour along with the Police Department will conduct raids to rescue children employed as child labourers and ensure that Bihar is free of the menace of child labour,” Mr. Mishra added.
In the second half, three panel discussions were held, focusing on issues like the role of government, civil society and media in eradication of child labour.
Others who addressed the distinguished gathering included Mr. Awadesh Narayan Singh, Minister, Labour Resources Department of the Govt. of Bihar; Mr. Ram Deo Prasad, Chairperson, Bihar State Child Labour Commission, Dr. Kailash Satyarthi, Founder, Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Mr. Chandravanshi Rai, Vice President, Bihar State Child Labour Commission.
Mr. BIjaya Rajbhandari, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Bihar; Jose Bergua Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF. India country Office, UNICEF officials, Labour Resources Department officials, media persons, representatives from various trade unions, NGOs, children from NCLP and various other schools also participated in the event.