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Art as a break from work
- Ranchi rights meet promises cash aid, steel city NGO takes care of out-of-school ‘labourers’ for a day

(From top) A boy washes a kettle on the roadside in Dhanbad on Thursday, observed as World Day Against Child Labour. In Ranchi, SCPCR chairperson Roop Laxmi Munda speaks on the issue at a meeting, while NGO Adarsh Seva Sansthan organises a drawing contest for school dropouts in Sonari, Jamshedpur. Pictures by Hardeep Singh, Bhola Prasad and Gautam Dey

Usna Dhubar (12) had to drop out of Carmel Hindi High School after class I as he had to distribute milk packets to households in Sonari that fetched him Rs 1,000 a month.

Rohit Bagti (10), who lost his mother when he was a toddler, has been working at a Sonari dhaba. With a father and an uncle weighed down by their own problems, the little one figured fairly early in life that he had to fend for himself.

Humko shirt-pant kharidna tha. Isi liye kaam kar rahe hai (I wanted to buy a shirt and pant and that’s why I am working),” he said.

Rohit and Usna were among 15 children who were entertained by Jamshepdur NGO Adarsh Seva Sansthan at a function on Thursday to observe World Day Against Child Labour.

The NGO, which works for child rights along with Unicef (in some projects), used the occasion to sensitise children and teenagers from nearby slums about the atrocities of child labour and why education was the only way out.

They also held a drawing competition for the children.

Members of district legal services authority (DLSA) were also present to talk to the children about Right to Free and Compulsory Education.

Former labour judge B.P. Singh, secretary of the legal services authority Rajesh Srivastav and judicial magistrate of juvenile justice board Pawan Kumar were also present.

The NGO, which conducted a survey on children of the area recently, used the occasion to release the report an highlight the nature of the problem.

Conducted across 23 slums in Kadma and Sonari among 290 children between six-18 years, the survey came out with details on 138 children between six-14 years.

Of these, 23 (16.7 per cent) have never been enrolled in schools. They include 10 tribals, three Harijans, while nine are from most backward classes and one from backward classes.

Only two of them have official BPL cards. The rest are out of the purview of any government scheme. Among the 115 who have been enrolled in schools, 69 (60 per cent) dropped out between classes I and VIII.

“Eradication of child labour is not possible until and unless society and parents are aware about their rights and duties. Though we work with such children and try to enrol them in schools, others could help, too. That is why we organised this programme,” said social worker Prabha Jaiswal.


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