Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Child labor: Solutions?

When I came to know about the child labor for the first time, I was a child myself and thought of child labor as one of the worst things. Even when I had not seen the worst face of it. But today, after having seen various facets of it, and after knowing probably all of them, I am more confused about the question that, "Can child labor be completely eradicated?"

There are a number of places where children are overtly exploited and certainly child labor in such places is against humanity. But is it that child labor, in all its forms and all the places, completely wrong?

There are a number of child laborers in my college mess and when I noticed that, I felt it was wrong. It was against the law. (not really as law checks births certificates which, I recently came to know, make all those children of 18+) But then, later I felt there was actually nothing wrong as these children were not doing something that exploits them. It was very normal work which any child could easily do.


The big question is, they are not getting education. They are not getting what it takes to rise their standard of living, yet at the same time they are poor children who are rising their standard of living. That means, to rise their present standard of living, these children are losing their future too.

What is the solution?

Ironically, when asked, most of them are happy with their lives and do not want to study as they are 'already earning money and that is what is the motive of studying'. This was what these workers were reported saying when the college offered a work study program. (I was unable to get a further detail of this as I cannot talk to these guys myself cause of my own illiteracy in the local language)

So here is the problem to which we need to find the solution. If we really want to see our country progressing and people's living standard higher, we need to change this mentality. But I have no clue how to do that.

In fact sometimes when we see the immediate effects of this illiteracy, I feel really sad. It's strange when I see those mess workers with cellphones in their hands but they cannot operate them even at the basic level and come to us to ask how to operate them.

Is it that only institutions like Parikrma can make all the difference? In that case it will take really long to eradicate child labor from our country as there is an extremely small part of population in the reach of such institutions yet. (For details of Parikrma see post 'Thanks Shashi') Or is that we can also do something useful at our level? If yes, how? and if not, why?


Anuj said...

See education is the only way of truly helping anyone, charity on its own just doesn't work. There have to be reliable alternatives with stop gap measures in place while transitioning to those alternatives. Then it pretty much accelerates and becomes a self feeding process.

That's what's going to eradicate poverty, not just micro-finance but the essential macro-enlightenment. The best thing is that we're poised to do precisely that, we as in humanity.

Harshit Gupta: My big big world said...

we, as in humanity, are expected to do all this. But the fact is that we do not do this. So many of us, maybe not u and me, but so many of us still give alms to child beggars...

how are we expected to change our society if we keep doing it...

and the question remains there... what can we, as individuals, do for eradications of child labor?

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