VELLORE: Vellore Institute of Development Studies (VIDS), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has underlined the need for providing an umbrella of social protection for rescued child labourers and stepping up coordinated efforts of social groups at all levels for their rehabilitation.
In a statement on Wednesday, the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour, which is observed across the world on June 12 every year, founder-director of VIDS Dr P Jegadish Gandhi, who is also a consultant for a nationwide campaign on abolition of bonded labour and child labour, said the theme of this year was ‘social protection for keeping children out of work.’
Child labour, which had become an accepted social evil, was a hazard to a child’s mental, physical, social, educational, emotional and spiritual development. Elimination of child labour, therefore, required an inclusive social protective cover, where the poverty that spawned and perpetuated this heinous practice should be tackled effectively, Gandhi said.
He said, the social protection should aim at providing support and assistance to poor families. The tools which were most helpful in combating child labour included cash and in-kind transfer programmes and protection for social health and unemployment. These tools complemented each other and a well-designed social security system should include a specific mix of interventions, to best fit the needs of beneficiaries, he added.
Gandhi said the National Child Labour Programme was introduced in Vellore in 1995 after a survey in the district reported the presence of around 15,421 child labourers. Since then, an average of 3,000 children, both child labourers and non-schoolgoing children, were rescued every year by this programme. Child labour has now declined in Vellore, thanks to the positive measures taken by the government that included rescue, rehabilitation and action against employers.
A fund of `18 lakh, collected as fine from firms that had employed children, was also created in the district with interest accrued payable to the parents of the rescued children as a rehabilitation measure. With this, Vellore hopes to become the first child labour- free district in the State, Gandhi said.
The district should identify donors and social organisations to support free education for rescued children upto vocational/graduate level. Micro health insurance cover must be extended to the families of rescued children.