Better Days ahead: A child at a Ranchi eatery
Ranchi, May 23: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has opened a window of opportunity for over 10,000 child workers in Ranchi and Sahebganj.
State labour commissioner Aradhana Patnaik said the ILO project, which kicked off in the first week of May, had already used local manpower to identify child workers and their families in the two districts. Now, the process of rehabilitation would begin.
The objective of the three-year pilot project is to ensure that no child between six and 14 years is engaged in any kind of domestic or industrial work. To begin with, the international labour body will see to it that all welfare schemes sponsored by the state and Centre reach beneficiaries on time so that they do not depend on their children to run the family.
“The ILO aims to rehabilitate families of over 5,000 child workers in each of the two districts. It firmly believes that poverty nurtures child labour and wants to address this issue first,” said Patnaik.
Jharkhand is one of the five states — the others being Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Orissa — where the ILO campaign, in association with respective governments, is underway.
Under the project, children below 10 will be admitted to Bridge Schools, where they will be prepared for regular school. Bridge Schools offer child workers free accommodation and food along with academic lessons. For children above 10, the ILO plans to open vocational training centres in Ranchi and Sahebganj. These will hone them for better livelihood, besides imparting lessons in letters and digits.
The issue of child labour in Jharkhand is serious. Moreover, the government does not have a proper record on how many children are actually engaged as shoeshine boys or in roadside dhabas, hotels, motels, vehicle repair centres and the like. A rough estimate, however, puts this number at 50,000.
Patnaik said ILO and the state jointly constituted a task force for the two districts and identified the children and their families.
Earlier, in mid-April, officials of labour, HRD, welfare and rural development departments held a meeting under the chairmanship of the development commissioner. An inter-department co-ordination pledge was taken to address the issue.
Patnaik said unless the child labour issue is addressed, the Right to Education Act will not succeed in its letter and spirit.