By Sunil Sharma
Chandigarh, Mar 2 : To overcome the menace of child labour, several NGOs and the administration have launched special campaigns to rehabilitate child labourers and beggars.
The challenge is to convince the parents that they should not force their children to work or beg on the streets.
"We are looking deeply in the matter and trying to find out whether there is some mafia behind these beggars, who are taking them for begging for their own benefit. We are preparing a record of the people who are involved in begging. But, we do not want to scare the children. Infact, we want to bring them into the fold of education," said S K Sethia, Director, Public Instruction (Schools), Chandigarh.
The reviews have turned realistic at the Alternative Innovations and Education Centres under the 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan'. In Punjab, there are plans to open 690 such centers in all districts after Chandigarh successfully enrolled over 400 children in 190 centres.
Since January, the Chandigarh administrations has made a data bank of over 7,000 child beggars and labourers who cannot be enrolled in regular school systems.
There is a great opportunity for such children to be educated free of cost, besides facilities like hygiene food, clothes and stationary.
Kiran, a domestic help, said : "The teacher visited my house three-four times and lured me with exercise books, pencils and clothes. Then I came here. The teacher forced me to study, and told that it is was necessary for me."
"I am feeling great. The teacher told me to go to school and since then I am studying here. My parents opposed me, but I willingly came to study," said Raja, a beggar.
It is truly a revival of their childhood giving up working as domestic help, plying rickshaws and begging on the street. They now have a sense of living in a better society.
The kids would not only look forward to a better life; they would contribute to the growth of the nation.