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Tuesday, Oct 10, 2006

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Child labour ban takes effect today

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Children cannot be employed as domestic help

Criticisms of NCLP No timeframe for eradication of child labour Awareness is minimal amongst both the common public and those given responsibility to enforce the law No system of review

New Delhi , Oct. 9

"Stop employing children as workers," appealed the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, a day before the ban on child labour in the domestic and hospitality industry comes into effect.

"Our nation has solemnly pledged that children in our country are not engaged in any form of work at the cost of their right to education. As a major step in this direction, I call upon each one of you to stop employing children as workers and actively encourage children to join schools," said the Prime Minister promising on behalf of the Government to "take a firm action against those violating the law".

So, what exactly do you tell your neighbour today, when you see her little child servant carrying the baby on one hip and her shopping in the other arm? Not very much.

Although the new notification banning child labour in the domestic/employment sector had been announced three months in advance, a day before it comes into effect the general public has very little information on it.

At least one of Delhi's five child line services, 1098, has yet to receive a single child or call for a case regarding domestic child labour. The National Child Labour Project (NCLP), however, says it has spent on a cross media campaign that includes hoardings to generate awareness.

At a workshop conducted by UNICEF titled "New Notification banning Child Labour in the Domestic/Employment Sector: The Changing Scenario of Child Labour in India" critics were rather cynical.

NCLP criticisms

The National Child Labour Project has no targets; "Child Labour is a socio-economic problem," they argue. "It is like poverty you cannot have a time frame for its eradication." The project is not time bound and covers only 250 districts currently. Further, awareness is minimal amongst both the common public and those given responsibility to enforce the law, say critics.

The project also does not have a system of review; no way of judging rehabilitation success rates.

Currently, the rescued children are sent to special schools run by NGOs that offer compressed education up to three years, vocational training with a stipend of a Rs 100 per month.

The NCPL is working in convergence with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project, of the Ministry of HRD, as well as other development schemes. The UNICEF is in talks with the NCLP to incorporate a tracking system that they have been experimenting with in a pilot project in Karnataka.

`Basic' as the system is named, comprises the child's socio-economic profile, continual educational performance, into a year of his entering mainstream schools.

Developed by the NGO Indian Literacy Project, UNICEF has implemented the system in seven districts (Murshidabad in West Bengal, Bhadohi and Mirzapur in UP, Bangalore - rural and urban in Karnataka, Kanur and Medak in AP).

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