There are significant economic benefits for developing nations by sending children to school instead of work

Even after 70 years of independence, we haven’t been able to send all our children to school. Worse still, there are crores [tens of millions] of child labourers in India, and their number is increasing in sectors such as agriculture, mining and domestic labour. “The root causes of child labour are poverty, illiteracy, lack of quality education and resources, and poor implementation of laws,” says Neelam Makhijani, country director & CEO of ChildFund India—a child development organisation. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, she argues that child labour and poverty go hand in hand, and suggests some reform measures that can, over time, eradicate this social evil. 

Young boys work as porters instead of going to school in Darjeeling, India. Photo by Pavel Svoboda Photography

Excerpts:

How many child labourers are in India?
According to 2011 Census, the number of child labourers in India between 5-14 years, of the total child population of 25.964 crore, is 43.5 lakh (main workers) and 38.7 lakh (marginal workers), which comes to a total of 82.2 lakh  [one lakh is 100,000]. The absolute number (labourers aged 5-19 years) is 3.538 crore. Although the number of working children is declining, their number is increasing in sectors such as agriculture, mining and domestic labour. As per a 2015 ILO report, children aged 15-17 years engaged in hazardous work account for 62.8% of the child workforce, 10% of whom are hired in family enterprises. Over half of working adolescents have not been to school. This is a major cause for concern.

Read the full article in Financial Express