Changes You need to Make to Avoid Child Labour Impact

The number of children in child labour has risen since COVID. What are the most urgent changes that must be made?

Home - Child Labour - The number of children in child labour has risen since COVID. What are the most urgent changes that must be made?
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India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru believed that “Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens” which implies that children will be the foundation of the nation. Therefore, every generation has a responsibility to raise children properly.

But given the state of child labour rises, our future seems to be in trouble. According to the child labour statistics, 160 million children are working as child labour globally, with an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years. 

COVID-19 also led to an increase in the incidence of child labour. A collaborative study by CRY and the Tata Institute of Social Science revealed that child labour is primarily increasing in agriculture and home-based businesses. To help their family during the lockdown, the kids were made to sell vegetables at the markets and neighbouring stores.

One of the key catalysts for an increase in child labour is the introduction of COVID-19 (Rakshit, 2020).

It’s important to comprehend the root causes of child labour and take appropriate action to reduce it.

Numerous studies have demonstrated a clear connection between child labour and poverty and educational failure. According to a holistic approach, child labour can be effectively addressed by increasing access and quality of education and improving socio-economic conditions. 

Sending children to school

Child labour rises majorly in marginalised communities. According to a study conducted by Khasnabis and Chatterjee in 2007 in the slums of India’s Kolkata Metropolitan City, enrolling children from extremely low socioeconomic backgrounds in formal education is far easier than retaining them in school. As they get older, the child’s earning potential increases and he or she quits school to support his/her family. 

During lockdown, children from deprived communities were unable to access virtual schooling due to a lack of resources like mobile phones and internet connectivity. A majority of these children got engaged in income-generating activities like domestic work and selling various goods. Therefore, after the schools reopened, it was hard for them to get back to formal education. 

Also Read: 5 ways parents can get involved in schools

To avoid the negative impact of Covid-19 on the child labour impact, it is critical that children return to school and schools to work towards retaining them. Schools could run a survey to determine whether former students dropped out or continued their education at another institution.

When a student drops out of school, schools should make an effort to contact the parent(s) of the student and encourage them to enroll their child. To lower the number of school dropouts, it is possible to establish relationships with kids and their parents.

There are numerous consequences dropouts have to face in the future. As a result, it is necessary to address the issue at the school level to mitigate future consequences such as continued unemployment or disrupted employment, increased reliance on welfare, and feeding a cycle of financial strain on society. 

Improving learning Outcomes

The child labour raises emphasis on the fact that lower learning outcomes could increase the child labour statistics in the future. The mid-day meal program has a mixed effect on improving students’ attendance at school (Jalan and Panda, 2010), but its assessment of the standard of instruction in public schools is very striking.

It has been observed that the student dropout is more in the higher grades as compared to lower grades. Data shows that a child of standard IV frequently finds it difficult to solve an issue of standard I. Therefore, attending school is not enough; the quality of education is equally important. 

Poor planning and management, weak governance and corruption have made government initiatives ineffective. For example, due to the lockdown, students’ learning outcomes have fallen because only a few of the students have access to learning materials and activities. According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2020, only 36% of children received learning material and 24% of students didn’t have access to any smartphones (UNICEF, 2021). 

A large chunk of students did not have access to any learning activities. This has impacted their foundational knowledge and students were unable to understand the concept of their grade level. Therefore, specialized bridge courses should be made that could improve the basic concept of students according to their needs.

If a child is not performing well in school, parents may believe that studying is a waste of time and money, and they may send their children to work to earn money. By enhancing student outcomes, parents are encouraged to provide resources so that their children could succeed in life by studying and helping them in the future.

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Improving family income

Child labour statistics show that children are often driven to work by poverty and shocks. Child labour is more likely to be used by low-income households to meet their fundamental requirements. Similar effects on households may occur from exposure to shocks that cause a loss of income.

For instance, economic shocks like an adult member of the family losing their job, health-related shocks like a serious illness or a work injury and agriculture-related shocks like drought, flood, and crop failure, can significantly lower household incomes and lead to children quitting their school and working to support their family.

And the longer the lockdown occurs, the situation is more serious for poor families. It has been shown that parents will decide to send their kids to work instead of school if the family income drops below a certain crucial level.

Due to the persistent effects of poverty, not sending a child to school or denying him/her the chance to learn through education results in a child labour trap (Basu, 1999; Basu and Van, 1998). 

According to Francesconi (2001), a child’s education is influenced by the parent’s income and education. Individuals can support a child’s education and volunteer to educate youngsters on weekends. More awareness programs and street play may help individuals comprehend the importance of education.

The government should give social safety measures in times of crisis. So that children should not have to work for their families to obtain food and survive. This affirmative action helps children continue their schooling despite family issues and helps decease the impact of Covid-19 on child labour.  

Child labour is unethical and harmful to the economy. The current child labour statistics point out that all the efforts taken by the government and other organisations in the last two decades have been wiped out by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The education system failure and loss of livelihood during lockdown are the fundamental causes of the increase in child labour. Efforts towards the gradual eradication of child labour could result in the general improvement of the socio-economic conditions of people along with the improvement of the human capital of the nation.

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