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World Day Against Child Labour: Call for establishment of residential schools, enhanced budgetary allocation

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New Delhi, Jun: The World Day Against Child Labour is an International Labour Organization (ILO)-sanctioned holiday first launched in 2002 aiming to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour. It was spurred by ratifications of ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

World Day Against Child Labour: Call for establishment of residential schools, enhanced budgetary allocation

On this occasion, a call has been made for a special policy for the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers, the establishment of residential schools for them and enhanced budgetary allocation for child welfare schemes.

A group of youth leaders, some of whom had survived tumultuous childhood as forced child labourers, were felicitated at an event - National Consultation on the Eradication of Child Labour by 2025 - organised by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF) in the national capital on Friday.

These youth leaders demanded a special scheme for the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers. They sought the establishment of residential schools for rescued children and enhanced budgetary allocation for child welfare schemes, especially for child labourers.

For an effective rescue and rehabilitation policy, they urged the government to declare all 749 districts in India under the National Child Labour Project Scheme (NCLPS) and initiate a technology-based monitoring scheme for its effective implementation.

Among those who were felicitated were Surjeet Lodhi, 18, from Vidisha district in Madhya Pradesh. Lodhi has helped scores of children in his village get access to education.

For his efforts to bring about a positive change, he was conferred the prestigious Diana Award in 2021. His crusade against alcohol consumption and spreading awareness for education has made him an inspiration for other children.

"The existing law against child labour should be effectively implemented. We also request the government to pass the anti-trafficking bill as most of the children are trafficked for forced labour," he said.

Five of the felicitated youth leaders were from Rajasthan. Three of them - Amar Lal, Tara Banjara and Rajesh Jatav - recently represented India in the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) fifth global conference on the elimination of child labour in Durban.

Tara Banjara, 17, from Nimdi village in Alwar district spent her childhood as a road construction worker. At present, she is pursuing her bachelor's degree and aspires to be a police officer.

Rajesh Jatav, 21, hails from Akbarpur village in Bharatpur district. Rajesh was rescued from a brick kiln when he was eight and brought to Bal Ashram - a rehabilitation and training centre of BBA at Viratnagar. At present, he is pursuing a bachelor's degree in science at Delhi University.

Two girls from the state - Lalita Duhariya, 17, and 19-year-old Payal Jangid - are notable for their contributions to bringing social transformation. "I make efforts to unite the children of my village. Children must come together and raise their voices against all forms of injustice. Education is the greatest tool of empowerment for us," Jangid said.

Three from Jharkhand who were felicitated were Neeraj Murmu, 22, Champa Kumari, 16, and Radha Kumari 17. These youth leaders have sparked the movement of social change in their state and are enduring examples of grit, strength and determination.

Champa Kumari was rescued from a mica mine by BBA activists at the age of 12 years. Over the years, she has fought against child marriage and worked relentlessly to make her district free from child labour. "I will continue to fight against child labour and the social evil of child marriage. It is a tough fight, but worth fighting for," she said.

Radha Kumari from Madhuban panchayat in Koderma has been designated as the district's brand ambassador against child marriage for her dogged efforts in preventing child marriages and empowering girls.

"To stop child marriages completely, we need to change the prevailing notions and perceptions of our society, especially towards girl children," she said.

Appreciating the efforts of these change-makers, Sanjay Chander, Director General (DG) of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), felicitated them.

"The fight against child labour cannot be won in a single day. It is an ongoing battle having socio-economic, legal and political repercussions. However, the stories of these children give us hope and strengthen our resolve to fight the menace of child labour," he said. PTI

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