CHENNAI: At least 38.33 per cent of working children in Tamil Nadu are engaged in agriculture and related industries, said a statement issued by Child Rights and You (CRY), an NGO. The statement was released on June 12, which is observed as the World Day Against Child Labour.
As stated by CRY, according to 2011 census, there are at least 40.3 million working children in India, of which a whopping 62.5 per cent are engaged in agriculture and related industries. In absolute numbers, 25.23 million children are employed in agricultural sector.
In Tamil Nadu, there are at least 9,48,052 male and 6,18,575 female working children and adolescents. In total, Tamil Nadu has 1566627 working children, out of which around 600538, which amount to 38.33 %, are working in agriculture sector. The statement further cites that at least 95011 children in the age category of 5 to 14 years, are engaged in agriculture and related industries sector while in the age group of 15 to 19 years, the figure is 505527.
A closer look at the Census 2011 data analysis by CRY, suggests that children engaged in agricultural work majorly miss out on the opportunity of education. Among the total 40.34 million working children and adolescents within the age-group of 5-19 years, only 9.9 million attend educational institutions, which mean only 24.5% of the working children go to school.
As the data suggests, it is a huge challenge for children to balance work and education. Census 2011 data reveals that only a miniscule percentage of children who are involved in agriculture are able to continue education, despite the existence of the Right to Education Act.
Priti Mahara, Director Policy Advocacy and Research at CRY said, “Children work mainly to help their families because the adults do not have adequate income. They work also because there is a demand for cheap labour in the market. When they are forced to work for long hours, their chance of attending school gets limited, preventing them from gaining education. Their time to play and leisure is somehow compromised.”