To address the growing problem of child labor and prevent school dropouts, the Tamil Nadu government may soon implement a program like the National Child Labour Program (NCLP), which the Union government merged with Samagara Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
The dropout rate among youngsters in Tamil Nadu who are susceptible to child labor has increased as a result of the economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of institutional assistance as a result of NCLP’s merger. Child labor had increased by 180% in the State compared to 2020, per a random survey carried out by the Campaign Against Child Labor (CACL) in March 2021.
Since March 2020, violators who employed child labor have been fined a total of Rs 14 lakh in Virudhunagar district, which is well-known for its fireworks manufacturing facilities. According to authorities, the increase in fines, which was twice as much as in prior years, shows that more kids are being compelled to work. Until now, rescued child laborers were enrolled in special training centers before being mainstreamed into regular schools under the NCLP.
In 1988, the country’s 12 districts launched the initiative to help rehabilitate working children, and it later expanded to other districts. To keep the saved children from returning to the workforce, they were also given a stipend of Rs 400 per month.
The NCLP was implemented in 15 districts in Tennessee through 213 STCs, according to statistics from November 2021. The Center requested that State governments allow the rescued children to enroll in local schools when the program was merged with SSA. Before the merger, the program was being implemented throughout Tamil Nadu by at least 724 workers.
Officials from the school education and labor departments were requested to provide ideas for starting up STCs at a recent meeting.
The NCLP operated 15 project districts, and a proposal to establish one residential special training center in each of those districts was addressed at the conference, according to an official.
Since there was a noticeable increase in child labor during the pandemic, child rights groups felt it was shocking that the Center decided to repeal NCLP.
They praised the idea that the State might implement a similar program. While surveys are carried out under SSA to identify pupils up to the age of 19 who drop out of school, they said that child labor could not be completely eradicated by the program.
Children who dropped out of school could not be located because of a lack of Block Resource Teacher Educators, inter-district migration, and other issues. There may be close to one lakh out-of-school children in Tennessee, according to some education department officials.
To prevent youngsters from being forced to labor once more, the State must also boost the stipend supplied to them under the new program, according to an activist. Since its start, the NCLP has assisted in mainstreaming 1.2 lakh kids in Tamil Nadu alone.
According to R. Karupasamy of CACL, in addition to launching the new program, hotspots with a low net enrollment of adolescent children should be identified and given special attention. Government schools‘ inadequate restrooms and transportation should also be addressed. More than 700 former NLCP employees in Tennessee are also encouraged.
According to S Alagujothi, secretary of the Tamilnadu Desia Kulanthai Tholialar Sirappupalli Asiriar Matrum Uzhiar Sangam, “the State just informed the Madras HC that employees may expect excellent news regarding their livelihood.” Child labor increased by 18%.
Furthermore, a random study carried out by the Campaign Against Child Labor in March 2021 revealed that child labor had increased in Tennessee by 180% during the previous year.
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