Educate kids, save them from child labour and penury
Many children had ended up working in nearby farms or faraway industrial units, and stayed away from lectures regularly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the education of children in India. The Right to Education Act of 2009 guarantees free and compulsory education to every kid, but as a country, we have failed miserably to ensure quality education to our children. With the incomes of parents dwindling after the pandemic, many kids are forced to earn a living for the family. On the other hand, education has become a luxury for the children of thousands of migrant daily workers. Recently, a student from Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu sought help from the district collector when his college tried to expel him for not attending online classes. The boy told this newspaper that he went to Tiruppur to work in a printing factory since he did not have a smartphone nor money to buy a new one. A probe revealed that this wasn’t an isolated case. Many children had ended up working in nearby farms or faraway industrial units, and stayed away from lectures regularly.
As per the National Survey Sample Office report of 2017-18, just 10.7% of Indians own laptops and computers and only 23.8% have access to the internet. Buying smartphones, laptops and internet packs is not a priority for parents who are struggling to make ends meet. As per a recent survey, over one lakh students have been identified as Out of School Children (OSC) across four districts of Tamil Nadu. The education department is currently implementing a pilot project to bring them back to schools. The project, under the Central government’s Samagra Shiksha, has unwrapped the gravity of the misfortune. Of the total dropouts, 28,774 have now been admitted back in schools. But nearly two-thirds are yet to return. The officials are making a serious effort to reach out to them through focussed intervention and door-to-door surveys.
Are we creating a society where children are kept off education? Bringing them back to schools should be the collective responsibility and priority of the state and Central governments. That is the only way to save children from penury.