The debate over children working has been raging for centuries, with policies constantly changing to reflect the attitudes of a given time.

For instance, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 has been in force for almost 30 years; yet there are a large number of working children.

One in three Indians lives below the poverty line and 46 per cent of India’s children are malnourished.

A 2007 study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) found that 53.22 per cent of India’s children have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Though the exact number of victims go unobserved as it often causes victim to suffer in dark and claustrophobic silence.

Double the number we know are trapped in the worst forms of child labour — work akin to slavery, debt bondage, child prostitution and hazardous occupations harmful to health and safety.

Despite Article 39 of the Constitution directing that children should be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that childhood and youth be protected against exploitation, and moral and material abandonment, India’s children are subject to great violence.

Education could be seen as the key instrument for the liberation of children from poverty, exploitation and neglect. In pioneering work on child labour and school education in India, the late political scientist Myron Weiner wrote: “Modern states regard education as a legal duty, not merely a right: parents are required to send their children to school, children are required to attend school, and the state is obliged to enforce compulsory education … This is not the view held in India. Primary education is not compulsory, nor is child labour illegal.” But after exploitation of childern at such large scale, during the past years initatives are being taken up.

The Nobel Peace Prize this year recognises the crucial links among child rights, labour, and school education and, in doing so, recognises one of the most fundamental prerequisites of a better tomorrow for millions of children everywhere.


Also, view student achievement in private schools

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