HYDERABAD: Ramya (name changed), is a nine-year-old rescued from the clutches of her parents who pushed her to beggary. They used the money she earned to drink toddy every evening. When Ramya was rehabilitated in a residential bridge school in Chandrayangutta in Hyderabad, her behaviour was aggressive. Around 5 pm every evening, she would bawl and break down, demanding toddy. After several counselling 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 or 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 Hyderabad.
The Department of Labour, in 2017, had set up the State Resource Centre (SRC), for the elimination of child and adolescent labour in Telangana by 2021. Since then, the department has rescued several children and conducted awareness campaigns about how employing children for work is a crime.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 dropouts where most parents cannot afford an education and hence push them to work.“Their mindset and behavioural patterns are common, where they are all aggressive, brash and have no interest in learning. We start with motivation sessions and then teach them basic reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Nagendra, who also studied at a residential bridge school and is currently teaching children at the Chandrayangutta branch.
E Gangadhar, joint commissioner of labour, twin cities, who is also the head of the SRC, said they have joined hands with the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, 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 this and continuously monitor the districts,” informed Gangadhar.