HYDERABAD: Ramya (name changed), is a 9-year-old, who was rescued from the clutches of her parents, who pushed her to beg and earn money. They used the money to drink toddy every evening. When Ramya arrived at a residential bridge school in Chandrayangutta in the city, her behaviour was aggressive. At 5 pm every evening, she would bawl and break down, demanding toddy.
After several sessions at the bridge school run by the MV Foundation, she has now calmed down. She doesn’t talk much, but there has been a behavioural change in her. Ramya is one of the many cases of children employed in hazardous industries, households and commercial setups.
As part of Operation Smile/Muskaan, in the last few years, several child labourers have been rescued on different occasions. In 2017, more than 400 children were rescued from various brick kilns in the state.
The Department of Labour, in 2017, had set up the State Resource Centre (SRC), for the elimination of child and adolescent labour in the state by 2021. Since then, several awareness campaigns about how employing children for work is a crime, and rescue of children were conducted by the Department.
However, a systematic rehabilitation for these children has become a major challenge for it.
As per the plan of the SRC, the children who are rescued would be sent to bridge schools, like the one Ramya goes to.
These children are generally drop outs where most parents cannot afford an education and hence push them into work.
“Their mind set and behavioural patterns are common, where they are all aggressive, brash and have no interest in learning. ” informed Nagendra, who also studied at a residential bridge school and is currently teaching children at the Chandrayangutta branch.
According to E Gangadhar, joint commissioner of labour, twin cities, who is also the head of the SRC, they have joined hands with the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), who will conduct a survey about the number of existing child and adolescent labourers in the State.
This report will be out soon and based on this number, we will refine our plan of action. We have also created child labour project societies across all the 31 districts who will spread awareness about the this and continuously monitor the districts,” informed Gangadhar.
Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy said that TS is on the International Labour Organisation’s list, where it could be the first State in the country to become free of child labour as it is the only state which has a functional SRC. “The Ministry of Labour’s vision is to eliminate child and adolescent labour by 2030. But Telangana, has advanced that by nine years,” he said