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Southern Rajasthan most deprived in terms of education

Child Labour

The highest educated person in a village in southern Rajasthan is normally a graduate or a 12th pass or 10th pass. There is hardly anyone who has done his masters or is trained in any professional courses. These were the findings of a survey conducted in the region by Saman Bachpan Abhiyan, an organisation working for equal rights for children.

The study was conducted in 27 blocks of six districts in southern Rajasthan. The purpose of the study was to prepare a report on the situation of specific child rights violations in the region. It aims at finding out the reality of deprivation of children in terms of access and quality of opportunities available in education and the short term and long term impact of this deprivation on the lives of the children. This study also analyses the extent, causes and nature of this deprivation, and its impact on children of various social groups including the vulnerable and marginal communities.

“Tribal areas have witnessed a high dropout, poor schooling and average teacher attendance. There are policies, programmes and special provisions for development of tribal areas but in the ground, it is all a sad story. The southern belt of the state is a special case of chronic and inter-generation poverty. A vast majority of the population are illiterate and live as daily labourers. And it is this that the survey aimed to highlight,” says Dr Premchand Dabi, regional co-ordinator of the Abhiyan.

The survey also highlights that though enrolment in schools have improved, it consistently goes down in higher classes because of poor base and unfriendly situation. “According to MHRD’s annual report 2005-06, the drop-out rate for children stands at 68.50 whereas that for Adivasi children, it stands at 74%. Still there are large number of dropouts consisting of those who could not continue their education because of unavailability of higher education in their locality,” he said.

Even after getting educated, 60% of the passouts either work in fields or as daily labourers. Another comparison of passouts and dropouts also indicated that while all the passouts are employed, overall 36% of the dropouts are still looking for jobs.

“We also surveyed the NREGA sites to examine the education level of the people registered with them. And as a researcher and development worker, it was quite frustrating to note that there were more than 50% such sites where we found at least one educated daily labourer. Working as daily labourer is considered the last option in the village to earn livelihood and if an educated youth has to do that despite attending and completing school, it makes entire concept of education meaningless,” says Vijay Shahi, a trainer with the Abhiyan.

Anindo Dey, The Times of India, Jun 21, 2010

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Education is free but uneasily accessible

Access to education, Child Labour, Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

How do authorities plan to implement the right to education in the new academic session in the face of acute shortage of primary and upper primary schools. The right to free and compulsory education is guaranteed to children as per the norms prescribed under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Authorities of elementary education department, however, are tight-lipped on the issue. “We have not received any instruction in this regard so far,” Rajesh Kumar Singh, district coordinator of SSA, claimed when TOI contacted him on Friday. He, however, said all children up to 14 years of age were being covered under the elementary education system of SSA. According to the government norms, there should be a government primary school for a population of 300 at a distance of every one kilometre and an upper primary school for a population of 800 at every two kilometres. Presently, according to the records of the basic education department, there are 1,032 primary schools and 352 upper primary schools in the district. Besides, there are 780 other recognised primary and 577 upper primary schools in the district. If we add up the figures, there are 1,812 primary and 929 upper primary schools in the district. As per the SSA norms, there should be 10,462 primary and 3,923 upper primary schools in the district having a population of 31,38,671 (2001 census). However, there are also a number of other institutions in the district like private, non-government schools and madrassas.

“Survey of children from 6 to 14 years will be conducted soon,” said Triloki Sharma, another officer of SSA, adding the survey would be completed before the commencement of the new academic session in July. However, according to the old survey, 6,79,140 children were identified in the district. “In such a situation, there is a great possibility of the violation of the RTE Act in the coming academic session,” said Dr Rajni Kant, state convener of the Campaign against Child Labour (CACL). “After the enforcement of RTE Act, it is mandatory for the government to fulfil the norms to provide education to all children,” he said.

The SSA, the Central government’s flagship programme launched in 2001, aims at universalisation of elementary education in a time-bound manner. It is being implemented in partnership with state governments to cover the entire country. The emphasis is on mainstreaming out-of-school children through diverse strategies and providing eight years of schooling for all children in 6-14 age group. It aims at providing useful and relevant elementary education to all children in this age group by 2010. The 86th Amendment to the Constitution of India made education a fundamental right. And now, after enforcement of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 from April 1, 2010, it has implications for fulfilment of the obligation of the state to ensure that every child is in school.

But, the reality is that there are a number of children of this age group who are engaged in some forms of work. If the records of the labour department are to be believed, over 5,000 children working in hazardous and non-hazardous industries have been identified and rescued so far since December 1996 in Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur and Ghazipur districts. According to the additional labour commissioner DK Kanchan, 70 special schools for child labour under the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) are being run in Varanasi district while there are 30 such schools in Jaunpur and 20 in Ghazipur district. Each school provides education to 50 children for three years.

At national level, according to the All-India Educational Survey, there are 3,878 urban centres or localities in the country with an estimated population of 190.5 million. These have access to 74,656 schools, which have facilities for at least 4-5 years of education. This implies that there is one primary school for a population of about 2,500. Over 12 lakh Indian children, aged between five and 14, continue to work in dangerous occupations like construction, and manufacturing industries all over India. Based on the 2001 census, an estimated 1,85,595 children are employed as domestic help and in dhabas, 49,893 children work in auto-repair workshops, around 2,52,000 children are engaged in beedi manufacturing and 2,08,833 in the construction site.

Binay Singh, the Times of India, June 11, 2010

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Child Labor and the Education of a Society

Child Labour

We examine economic growth, inequality and education when the wellspring of growth is the formation of human capital through a combination of the quality of child-rearing and formal schooling. The existence of multiple steady states is established, including a poverty trap, wherein children work full-time and no human capital accumulation takes place, with continuous growth at an asymptotically steady rate as an alternative. We show that a society can escape from the poverty trap into a condition of continuous growth through a program of taxes and transfers. Temporary inequality is a necessary condition to escape in finite time, but long-run inequalities are avoidable provided sufficiently heavy, but temporary taxes can be imposed on the better-off. Programs aiming simply at high attendance rates in the present can be strongly non-optimal.

Clive Bell
University of Heidelberg – South Asia Institute (SAI)

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