New Delhi, June 12 (IBNS) The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has emphasised that only quality education can kill the menace of child labour amid reports that there are 218 million child labourers worldwide.
A programme was organized on the occasion of 'World Day Against Child Labour' by NCPCR in collaboration with ILO and UNICEF at Vigyan Bhavan here.
According to an International Labour Organization (ILO) estimate, there are 218 million child labourers worldwide.
Neela Gangadharan, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development emphasised how child labour robs children of their childhood depriving them of their fundamental right of having quality education.
"We have come a long way in our policies and programmes. But still we need to constantly remind ourselves of this (child labour) issue. I am happy that NCPCR is celebrating this day bringing issues of child labour to the fore,'' she said.
Gangadharan, who was also the Chief Guest for the event, mentioned that the Government is seriously looking at the amendment of the existing Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
Echoing similar views, Dr Lakshmidhar Mishra, Special Advisor, North East Cell, NCPCR, in his address, said: "There is a positive co-relation between work, age, health and strength of the person doing that work (Art. 39 E of the Constitution).
"There is a clear scientific rationale behind fixing a minimum age of entry to the world of work. Since the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines a child as below 18 years of age the minimum age of entry to the world of work should also be fixed at eighteen," he said.
Universalisation of education creates a learning society which is broad, liberal, patient, and tolerant, he added.
Harping on the need to have an adolescent-centric reform, Dr Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, NCPCR, said: "It is hoped that there are strong legal instruments to abolish all forms of child labour for adolescents in the age group of 14 to 18 years.
"It is hoped that programmes such as SABLA, ICPS and Open Schools are driven by imaginative intervention through the local bodies and community involvement and participation of adolescents to opt for a second chance in their lives."
Providing education to adolescent children, especially after 14 years of age, is a challenging but not an impossible task, she added.
The joint statement by NCPCR, ILO and UNICEF called for ratification of international instruments against child labour in an unequivocal manner and renewing of existing anti-child labour legislation and policies and adapting them to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000.
A couple of erstwhile child labourers also presented their testimonies and staged a 'Nukkad Natak' to bring home the issue of child labour and need for its abolition.
International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day against Child Labour in 2002 to generate awareness about the practice of child labour in different sectors.
The Government of India's 2001 census estimated that 12.7 million are involved in child labour. Children constitute 3.6% of the total labour force in India.