Popular Posts

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

childhood programme

ECD programmes are not only about the children, they are also about influencing the contexts in which
children are growing up. Thus they need to create the conditions to ensure the young child’s overall
development to his or her fullest potential. There is no single blueprint for such programmes but there are
some guidelines. Programmes should build on the strengths that already exist within the family,
community and society. At the same time, they should work to build up the strengths of the children.
Physical strengths:
such as prenatal care and nutrition for mothers; appropriate nutrition for children; immunisation;
appropriate shelter; clean water, good sanitation and hygiene; opportunities and encouragement to
develop gross and fine motor skills.
Intellectual strengths:
such as language acquisition and exposure to stories; activities that encourage a child to explore,
be curious and to find things out for him or herself; understanding basic concepts such as
numbers, colours, dimensions and so on; encouraging creativity and critical thinking.
Social strengths:
such as learning about one’s own identity; understanding relationships in the family and
neighbourhood; interacting with peers and others in accordance with accepted norms of the
society; acquiring good communication skills; being able to cooperate.
Moral and emotional strengths:
such as having stable relationships, love, affection and a sense of security; understanding the
belief system of family and society; learning what is wise and what is not wise; being a critical
thinker; instilling and strengthening the ability to protect oneself.
The Convention presents development as a continuing process of interaction between the individual child,
with his or her inherent characteristics, and the immediate and larger environment, resulting in evolving
capacities and maturity.33 Thus the child is an active participant, not a blank slate to be manipulated.
Even the very youngest children can communicate and it is our task, as adults, to encourage and assist
them to develop their strengths and their skills.
Obviously, not all the above can be achieved in a single multi-purpose programme. The table34 below
shows just a few of the many programme strategies and approaches that are aimed at different groups.
A selection of options for early childhood development programmes
Approaches aimed at: possible strategies
parents; family; siblings;
elders; educators; teachers;
pre- and in-service training; monitoring and
supervision; home visiting; parent education; child-tochild
Deliver a service the child: newborn, infant,
toddler, preschooler; first/
second grader
home day care; health clinics; integrated centres; ‘Addon’
centres; preschools; religious schools; ECD part of
curriculum; birth registration
Strengthen national
resources and
programme personnel;
professionals and
training; experimental/demonstration projects;
strengthening structures; action research; partnerships
Strengthen demand and
policy makers; media;
professionals; general public
social marketing; multimedia dissemination of
knowledge; advocacy
Develop supportive legal
and regulatory
policy makers; legislators;
young children, their
families and caregivers;
partnerships government/civil society; family
legislation; alliances such as women’s groups,
community groups; tax incentives; parental leave and
benefits; support for breastfeeding
As can be seen, there are many options and many approaches. Some aspects need to be emphasised such
as the importance of programmes that support parents and families rather than replace them. Such as
training people from the local community to implement early childhood activities rather than insisting
that all personnel be professionally qualified. Such as communities and parents and children participating
in decision making about their programmes and the activities.
But who decides what is in the best interests of the children? Who will implement early childhood
programmes? How can a country decide its overall policy for young children and their families?

Early childhood development

There are a number of compelling arguments for concentrating on the youngest members of our society.
In this section we concentrate on just four of these: the scientific argument, the rights-based argument, the
economic argument, and the human development argument.
The scientific argument is a very clear one. It is based on developmental research that has shown that the
early years are extraordinarily important in relation to a child’s development intellectually, emotionally,
socially, physically, and morally. We know from evidence in a variety of fields such as psychology,
physiology, nutrition and health care that particularly during the early years, both physical and
environmental factors play a significant role in child development2 .
The combined impact of quality health care, adequate nutritional sustenance, and appropriate intellectual
stimulation on young children’s physical, mental and emotional growth are synergistic and cannot be
broken into separate domains. These impacts are powerful, exact and affect not just general development
but the specific wiring of the brain.
Beginning at conception and continuing on through birth, the environment has a significant impact on
brain development. A simple summary of what is known about brain development is:
• Before the age of one, brain development is quicker and more encompassing than heretofore thought.
Cell formation is essentially complete prior to birth but brain maturation continues.
• The brain is extraordinarily susceptible to environmental influences. Brain development is seriously
compromised by inadequate nutrition prior to birth and during the first years of life. Consequences
can include neurological and behavioural disabilities such as learning disabilities and mental illness.
• Early environments influence brain development. Infants raised in stimulating environments have
better brain function at age 12 than those raised in less stimulating environments.
• Early stress adversely affects brain function, learning, and memory. Young children who experience
extreme stress later in life are at greater risk for behavioural, emotional, and cognitive problems.4
From the time of conception until a child enters primary school, development advances at a pace greater
than any other stage in life.5 During this period children develop remarkable linguistic and cognitive skills
and they begin to exhibit emotional, social, and moral capabilities. Development can be compromised or
enhanced depending upon the social and economic circumstances children experience, and long-term
differences are clearly associated with social and economic circumstances. Understanding this process
makes clear the many remarkable accomplishments that young children achieve despite the many
problems they and their families encounter.
The rights-based argument for attention to the early years is based squarely on the Convention on the
Rights of the Child. The Convention takes a holistic view of development. Articles 2 (non-discrimination),
3 (the best interests of the child), 6 (inherent right to life, survival and development) and 12 (participation
of the child) set out basic principles while other Articles are concerned with health, family, education, and
respect for the child in her or his own culture and environment.
While the right to development is an overriding principle of the Convention, young children are
specifically mentioned only in terms of survival, health and malnutrition, birth registration. However, in
addition to the above, the following Articles are specifically relevant to young children: Article 5
(evolving capacities of the child), Article 24 (health and social services), Article 27 (standard of living),
Article 28 (education), Article 29 (aims of education), and Article 31 (leisure, recreation and cultural
If the nations of the world are to take seriously the right to development, they have to begin at the
beginning – with prenatal care for pregnant women and from birth until at least eight years of age for all
children as this is the only way they can ensure a healthy development for all, as well as the only way
they can ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under the Convention. Governments need to
make the appropriate balance between protection rights and development rights, both of which are
especially important for young children.
The rights-based argument is further supported by commitments made by governments at the World
Conference on Education for All in Jomtien in 1990. Article 5 of the Declaration states that ‘Learning
begins at birth. This calls for early childhood care and initial education. These can be provided through
arrangements involving families, communities, or institutional programmes, as appropriate.’ During a
follow-up meeting in Dakar in 2000 the first of the adopted goals is: ‘Expanding and improving
comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged
Governments are the only bodies that can put the appropriate policy and legal frameworks in place. They
have to take the lead but they do not have to work alone. Civil society is an essential partner in early
childhood development at all levels and should be involved as participants and implementers where

The economic argument is as compelling as the scientific and rights-based arguments when the question
‘why early childhood programmes?’ is posed. Although only a very few studies have done the detailed
calculations of costs and benefits that give us actual figures in dollars and cents, the benefits are obvious.
The most valuable economic asset of any country is its population, known in economic terms as ‘human
capital’. Human capital is best developed by providing every child with the opportunity to develop to her
or his full potential. In early childhood this means focusing on health, learning, and behavioural
development. Underdeveloped language acquisition, social skills, lack of the ability to think critically and
the capacity to learn, all of which develop during the early years along with physical disabilities, learning
impairments, poor preparedness for school, and gender disadvantages among others keep prosperity and
development from occurring.7 Robert Fogel, a Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences wrote in 1993:
Much of the capacity for success in life depends on the quality of prenatal care of mothers, on
nutritional adequacy during pregnancy, and on both physiological and spiritual nurturing of
children during early childhood. Not only is the physiological basis for good health laid during
these early years, but those essential values that have such high payoffs in competitive labor
markets are also transmitted from parents to children.8.
In recent years, there has been an increased effort to place a monetary value on the benefits of early
childhood care and development programmes. From an economic perspective, the test of any investment
is whether the rate of return justifies the expense.
Cost-benefit analysis in early childhood holds that education is both a consumptive good that gives
immediate benefits and an investment good that gives personal and social benefits well into the future.9
From an economic perspective, cost-benefit analysis entails estimating the monetary values of streams of
costs and benefits in order to measure the programme’s net value as a social investment. There are two
core components of a cost-benefit analysis: a detailed estimate of all programme costs (regardless of the
source of the financing) and the identification of multiple programme benefits or effects. Benefits or
effects must be assigned a monetary value. Cost benefit requires the use of a control or comparison group
who serve as estimates of the cost of the programme without the intervention and a participant group
from whom estimates are derived for the intervention.10 Constant dollars are calculated by analysing
streams of costs and benefits over time. Additional analyses can include discounting costs to the present
by using appropriate rates of discount which reflect the opportunity cost of public resources.11
Three long-term studies that conform to this pattern are available from the USA. The returns have been
calculated at amounts between four and seven dollars for every single dollar spent on the early childhood
programme.12 These are rates of return on investment that many commercial enterprises would envy.
Cost-benefit analyses are by necessity situation and country specific. Each study is unique, and results do
not carry over easily to other countries, regions, or target groups.13 When discussing the economics of
education, cost benefit analysis demonstrates that early education, while a fundamental right of every
human being, is also an investment in human capital. Investments in human capital make economic sense
because the value of additional future benefits exceeds the extra costs to be incurred in the present.14
Research has shown that financial benefits of early childhood development programmes accrue directly to
children and families, and that there are financial and other benefits to communities and society as a
whole. For example, the implications of improved health and nutrition on performance and mortality rates,
increased school enrolment with lower repetition and drop-out rates, influences on gender disparities,
childbearing, unsocial behaviour. These are discussed in more detail in the next section.
The human development argument is perhaps the most compelling of all the arguments for devoting
resources to early childhood. Attention to young children and their families contributes to the overall
quality of human experience in both the short and the long terms. This leads to an overall enhancement in
the quality of any individual society and thus, to enrichment of world society at large.
A recent review of 11 early childhood studies covering 15 countries15 lists the following as the most
important and consistent findings:
• Early childhood development and care programmes in the early years can do much to prevent
malnutrition and increase children’s chances of survival.
• Intervention during the early years can assist in the healthy development of children cognitively,
socially, emotionally and physically.
• Participation in preschool programmes promotes cognitive development in the short term and
prepares children to succeed in school.
• Early childhood programmes can reduce educational inequalities.
• Interventions can raise the status of mothers in the home and community.
• Interventions reduce gender inequalities.
• Early interventions generate economic returns and reduce social costs by reducing grade retention,
special education placement, juvenile delinquency, and substance abuse.
A range of studies on the effects of early childhood development programmes have highlighted a wide
variety of findings:
• Turkey: Programme mothers enjoy higher inter-family status, greater decision-making, more role
sharing, and better communication with their husbands. They have greater satisfaction in their current
life situations and positive expectations for the future.16
• United Kingdom: Children who spend time learning at home with parents combined with quality
preschool experiences had more positive social and intellectual development.17
• New Zealand: Competency levels are affected by early childhood educational experiences. Of
particular importance is the quality of teacher support as well as the quality of teacher interactions
with the children.18
• Ten-country IEA Preprimary Project: The most important contribution at age 7 to children’s
language and general performance can be attributed to free activities in which teachers let children
choose the activities.19
• Nepal: Girls and boys who attended the ECD programmes enrol in primary school in equal numbers,
compared to a 39 percent enrolment for girls and 61 percent enrolment for boys with no ECD
experience … parents of children who participated in the ECD programmes are more likely to take an
active role in their children’s first and second grade of school. This includes talking to the teachers,
showing an interest in their children’s progress, engaging actively with the school management
committees, raising issues that concern them, and calling for accountability from teachers and
• Mauritius: At the age of 23, self report rates of criminal behaviour for children who had participated
in the enrichment programme were significantly lower than those who had not.21
• Kenya: The proportion of children with untrained preschool teachers who dropped out at Standard 1
was six times that of children with trained teachers.22
• Honduras: Teachers observed characteristics that differentiate programme children from nonprogramme
children: knowledge and use of language, ability to learn, punctuality, responsibility,
sociability, ability to communicate, hygiene.23
• Israel: Programme children perceive themselves, and are perceived by their parents, as more mature
than children in the comparison group. It is possible that parents’ greater confidence in their ability to
educate and provide for their children enables them to give their children room for independence and
responsibility, which the children take on and develop into a more adult and responsible behaviour
• Jamaica: The comparison group mothers had produced more than twice as many children over the
last 13 years as the programme mothers combined.

Ireland: Ten years on, the nutritional intake of children from the programme group is consistently
better than that of the control group.26
• Colombia: Twenty years after the programme began, educators are involved in community activities,
their homes are much better, they have increased feelings of competence and self-confidence, they
continue to participate in activities to improve their community and are proud of the educational leaps
that their children have made.27
• USA: At age 21, those who had been in the programme were more likely to have attended a 4-year
college, postponed childbirth and to be employed.28
• USA: Cost-benefit analysis indicates that every dollar invested in the preschool programme returned
$7.14 in education, social welfare, and socioeconomic benefits by reducing public expenditures for
remedial education, criminal justice treatment, and crime victims. Cost-benefit analysis in the
extended intervention programme (4-6 years of participation) provided a return to society of $6.11
per dollar invested.29
• USA: At age 27 female participants in the programme had only about two-thirds as many out-ofwedlock
births as did the non-participants; only one-fifth as many programme members as control
group were arrested five times or more and only one third as many were ever arrested for drug
dealing; four times as many programme members as no-programme members earned $2,000 or more
per month; almost three times as many owned their own homes; and over twice as many owned two
• USA: The mixed-approach Early Head Start programmes have the strongest pattern of impact among
families … evidence of the ability of the programmes to adjust services based upon family needs,
cultures, and perspectives which allows them to keep families participating for longer periods of time.
Early intervention is better … the impact is greater on children’s outcomes whose mothers enrol
during pregnancy.31
• USA: Head Start parents report increases in intellectual and socially stimulating activities they
engage in with their children. Intellectual activities include story telling, teaching letters, numbers,
and words, and going to museums. Socialising activities include household chores, running errands
and attending sporting events. Parents report that Head Start taught them a new manner in which to
discipline their children and a significant increase in their sense of control over their lives.32
Thus we can see that quality early childhood programmes in many parts of the world have effects that last
far longer than the programme itself and that effects reach out to parents, future parents and society at
large. But how are quality early childhood programmes achieved?

Children are our future

Children are our future. What happens to children in their first days, months and years of life affects their
development, the development of our society, and the development of our world.
The Bernard van Leer Foundation has worked in the field of early childhood development for 40 years
and for more than 20 of those years we have concentrated solely on young children from birth to eight
years of age. Our work has comprised support for programmes in more than 50 countries, both
developing and industrialised. Our support includes grants, the exchange of ideas and experiences,
commissioning studies and research, and publishing and advocating with the aim of informing and
influencing policy and practice.
The programmes that we support are participatory. They are based on working in and with the context,
with families and communities, taking account of local culture and traditions. The programmes are
mainly implemented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
When our Foundation began to work in early childhood, in the 1960s, the concept of children’s rights was
not yet widespread. Instead, we talked of needs and, in the early days, talked of needy children being
compensated to offset the disadvantages of the environments in which they were growing up. But it did
not take long to realise that while there were many disadvantages in those environments, there were also
many strengths. Even more important, it was obvious that the children and their families had their own
strengths so that any programmes designed to support them should start from those strengths and build
upon them.
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its almost universal ratification has created
a whole set of opportunities and challenges. One of these challenges is that the practice lags far behind the
concept. And another of these challenges is that, in the vast majority of countries, the rights of the very
youngest children are virtually ignored.

Friday, May 28, 2010



A 2002 study published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" found that lack of fitness is a better predictor of death among men than all other established risk factors for heart diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, also states that healthy eating and nutrition habits can lower your risk for certain cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Improving your physical fitness and your nutrition will increase your chances of preventing these and other chronic diseases.

Heart Disease

The CDC reports that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, risk factors for heart disease that can be modified healthy lifestyle changes are physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes. Increasing fitness and improving nutrition habits can have a positive impact on all of these heart disease risk factors.


Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says you can reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer--including cancers of the mouth, stomach, bladder, colon, breast and prostate--by eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Willett also says that a lack of physical activity can increase your risk for cancer. A healthy diet and better fitness can't provide full immunity from cancer, but they can provide increased protection.


Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancers. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke affects the arteries to and within the brain. The American Stroke Association also reports a poor diet and physical inactivity can lead to an increased risk of stroke.

High Blood Pressure

A 2010 study published in "The American Journal of Hypertension" found that a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity, reduces the risk of developing high BP According to the CDC, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and you can help prevent high blood pressure by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly processed sodium-filled foods.

Mental Health

Regular physical activity and an improved diet can have a positive impact on mental health. In 2003, a study published in "Preventive Medicine" found that regular physical activity is associated with decreased symptoms of depression, panic attacks and anxiety. Also, Dr. William Sears, author of "The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood," says some foods can improve mood in both children and adults. These foods include fruits, vegetables, salmon and eggs.



Many people will still remember the speech that R.K. Narayan the novelist had made in parliament, he said his heart bled whenever he saw young boys and girls going to school laden with books which they could hardly carry. This burden did not improve their minds; it only made them hunch backs.

Heavy back packs are one of the most distressing and unpleasant aspects of school life for many children.

The heavy weights of books make school going drudgery and irksome. This goes contrary to the current trend, which insists that the learning process should be fun. Children who do not have to carry heavy loads, such as the resident borders, are more relaxed and at ease than those who have to carry heavy backpacks to school. Similarly one of the appealing aspects of college life for kids is that they do not have to shoulder the burden of heavy books.

Heavy bags cause stress on the spine, back and shoulders, resulting in muscular pain, fatigue and strain. The excessive weight in bags may cause a child to develop poor posture or slouch excessively.

Look for the following warning symptoms that a school bag is too heavy:

- Tingling and numbness in arm.
- Pain while wearing the backpack.
- Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack.
- Change in posture when wearing the backpack.

Problems caused by heavy school bags :

1. Lifting heavy burden for a long time or distance is not good for children. Half of the school children develop pain in the back or shoulder.

2. Carrying a heavy bag on the back causes forward leaning and bad posture, which can lead to improper weight bearing on the spine, and pains and aches in the shoulder and back.

3. Carrying a backpack weighing > 15% of body weight makes a child or adolescent unable to maintain proper standing posture. Children could get into bad habits like poor posture and slouching.

4. Forward bending at the back (also called kyphotic posture) makes the work of breathing harder. Children carrying heavy bags have been found to have poor lung function.

5. Children who use one-strap bags (which put weight on one shoulder only) have a particular problem. These bags cause side ways deviation of the spine (scoliosis) because of the asymetric weight distribution and this can cause long lasting backaches and damage. Slinging the bag over one shoulder causes spine damage.

How to buy the right Backpack

(a) Don't buy big backpack it should be appropriate to your child's size.

(b) Choose a backpack with moulded frame and adjustable hip strap, so that the weight of the filled backpack will rest on your child's pelvis instead of their shoulder and spine.

(c) The shoulder straps should be adjustable, and the rear of the backpack padded for comfort.

(d) To help with packing, the backpack should have a few separate compartments.

(e) Canvas bags are lighter than leather varieties.
(f) Consider buying a backpack with built in wheels.
Packing the backpack correctly

- The backpack should weigh less than 10% of your child's body weight. For e.g. a child of 20 kg should carry less than 4 kg in their backpack. Ideally the child in this example should carry around 2-3 kg of books.

- Pack the heaviest items so they are closest to the child's back. If the heaviest items are packed further away, this throws out the child's center of gravity and causes unnecessary back strain.

- Make sure that items can't move around during transit as this could upset your child's centre of gravity. Use the backpacks with compartments.

Data shows that more than 75% of school children carry more than the recommended safe weight in the school bag.

Some solutions for this back breaking burden

(a) Loose sheets for homework.

(b) Individual lockers for students in school.

(c) Class work notebooks kept in school.

(d) Consecutive periods for one subject.

(e) To follow NCERT homework guidelines.

- Standard I & II - No Homework
- Standard III to IV - 2 hrs. a week
- Standard VI to VIII - 5 to 6 hrs. a week
- Standard IX to XII - 10 to 12 hrs. a week

(f) The Central Board of Secondary Education has directed the affiliated schools that they have to maintain the school bags of the students upto Class-II. School bags of students up to Class-II should be kept in school itself. Student of this age group should come with a lunch box and the pencil box only.

(g) CBSE also recommends a class library system so that students get used to habit of reading books in school.

Street Children

Street Children
According to recent reports the number of street children is increasing globally which is a very disturbing phenomenon indeed. There have been several studies on street children, each aimed at a particular side of the issue.

Broadly speaking, street children may be classified into two categories:
  1. The children in the street – those who work in the street and go back home, and
  2. the children of the street – who meet in the street and may or may not work.
The first category include rag pickers, child beggars, child salespersons etc., while the latter include children who loiter about in the street, many of whom later become anti socials, juvenile delinquents, drug peddlers and pick pockets.

Street children can be further sub categorized as per their age, gender, work, family status, kind of environment, linkage with family etc. Often it is found that such a child has a stronger linkage with his “friends” on the street than with his family. This is often because of the unhappy and unhealthy family environment where the father may be a drunkard or unemployed and the mother is struggling to make both ends meet with a number of children in tow. There is squalor and poverty all around and hardly any food to eat. Then the child prefers the open street where he can breathe fresh air and feels a sense of adventure. Plus of course there is always the hope that each new day will bring something good for him.

There are some street children who are the main bread winners of the family. They are sent out to the streets to earn some money to keep the home fires burning. They sometimes operate along with their siblings. For them the street is their place of work and by evening they return to their homes. They have strong linkages to their family and feel a sense of responsibility as well.

UNICEF has conducted several important studies on street children. The most important findings are as follows:
  1. Most street children are over 6 years, a majority is over 8 years.
  2. Most street children are boys; socio cultural factors limit girls’ mobility.
  3. Most street children have never attended school. Out of those that are sent to schools a majority drop out before they complete their primary education.
  4. Close ties exist with the family in many cases and these children return to the family after the day’s activity. They work on the street with the knowledge of the family.
  5. The street children work for a living and are either the sole bread winner or supplement their family’s income.
  6. Most street children work exclusively in the informal sector – in jobs that do not require education, skill or investment.
  7. A majority of them are self- employed. They are often engaged in more than one activity as their job is seasonal. They work for 10-12 hours under sub human conditions in heat, cold or rain, amidst filth and pollution.
Further, most street children are characterized by lack of education, skill, training, finance, guidance and help. They have no occupational or career ladder. Their nutritional status is unsatisfactory and most suffer from malnutrition and under nutrition. As a result their growth is slow and they also develop several deformities due to lack of essential nutrients in their diet.

One of the major causes of concern for the street children is that they are exposed to physical abuse. With no grown up in sight, unscrupulous persons often lure away the innocent children and use them to satisfy their carnal desires. Needless to say girl children are at a much greater risk. As a result many children get afflicted by AIDS and other terrible diseases.

Violence is a part and parcel of their lives. Many a time they get caught in violence over territorial rights. Some are lured away by criminal gangs. Drug peddling is common among many groups of street children. They are engaged in a daily struggle for survival and in their struggle some of them develop a particular resourcefulness. They hardly have a social status. Their existence is tolerated but not trusted. They are socially and psychologically marginalized and are almost an invisible group, owned by no one.

What, then, can be done to alleviate their condition? In the first place their existence has to be formally recognized by the government. They fall into three categories:
  1. the most severely unprotected homeless children, who form 5-10% of the total street children population.
  2. Those who need temporary shelter (who have strained relations with their family) – 15-20% and
  3. those who live in the family and form a part of the community.
The Government should have a formal policy framework to monitor the street children, alleviate their condition and bring them into the social mainstream. The Department of Women and Child Development can be entrusted with this work. The children can be put into temporary ‘homes’ , given basic education and taught some vocational skills, so that they can be independent.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also be roped in to play an effective role in this regard. They can take up the street children area wise and help them. Designing, organizing and delivering the services can be vested with the NGOs, while the Government can monitor the progress of the schemes. Local residents (including retired persons and other volunteers) can be identified to help out in this noble cause.

Financial assistance is of course necessary at the outset. Infrastructural facilities are also needed.

Last but not the least the street children should not be treated as a homogenous group. Each child is different and may have a different problem. Human factors like awareness, motivation, perception and participation should be the key words when addressing the problem.

Children are the blooming flowers of the garden of society and the future citizens of the country. No country can progress if a large number of its future citizens languish on the street amidst want, hunger, squalor and poverty. It is the duty of each one of us to do our mite to alleviate the condition of the street and make the future brighter for them.

Child Labour

Child Labour: The Burning Predicament In The World
“A Child is a father of the man”. This famous line quoted by William Wordsworth refers to the importance of the child in a society for the development of society as well as for the development of the whole nation. For welfare and development of the nation, a child should be introduced to high education and should be devoid of several social evils. One of these evils is CHILD LABOUR. Child labour is a practice usually followed in developing and underdeveloped countries. India, unfortunately, is one of them.
Child labour is work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. The various problems arising in the countries economic, political and social condition is one of the major reasons for growth of this problem. The International Labour Organization estimates that 246 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous, or extremely exploitative.
United Nations secretary General Kofi Annan quoted, "Child labour has serious consequences that stay with the individual and with society for far longer than the years of childhood. Young workers not only face dangerous working conditions. They face long-term physical, intellectual and emotional stress. They face an adulthood of unemployment and illiteracy."
Also former president of India and a well known scientist ‘Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Azad’ said, “All of us should feel proud on all literate, intellectuals, entrepreneurs and affluent citizens of the country but it should not be forgotten that such categories of persons are almost surrounded from all corners by large number of people who are poor, illiterate and malnutrition. They make our life comfortable and worth living by hard work of day and night and it may be dangerous to neglect them ....”
Who Is A Child???
Definition of child is subjective and depends upon the matters it is related to.
In general term child is used for a person who on account of his young age, is considered to be of immature intellect ad imperfect discretion and thus unable to comprehend the consequences of his own act. Such a person is known as minor.

According to article 1 of United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child 1989:
“A child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”

In case of child labour the definition of child can be referred under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 it states that:
Child means a person who had not completed 14 years of age.

From the above point, it is clear that a person up to the age of 14 year is a child while concerning child labour. Convention 59th of International Labour Organisation lays down that –
“No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.”

Some Important Acts formulated to combat the problem of Child Labour
a. Minimum Wages Act, 1948: It provides for fixation of minimum time rate of wages by state government. It also includes the fixation of minimum piece rate of wages, guaranteed time rates for wages for different occupations and localities or class of work and adult, adolescence, children and apprentices. The act is aimed at occupations, which are less well organised and more difficult to regulate…where there is much scope for exploitation of labour.

b. The Plantation labour Act: The employment of children between the ages of 12 years is prohibited under the Act. However, the act permits the employment of child above 12 years only on a fitness certificate from the appointed surgeon.
c. The Mines Act, 1952: It states that no child shall be employed in any mines nor shall any child be allowed to be present in any part of mine, which is below ground, or in any open cast working in which any mining operations being carried on.
d. The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958: The act prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 in a ship except a training ship, home ship or a ship where other family members work. It also prohibits employment of young persons below the age of 18 as trimmers and stokers except under certain specific conditions.
e. The Apprentices Act, 1961: It states that no person shall be qualified for being engaged as an apprentice to undergo apprenticeship training in any designated trade unless he is 14 years of age and satisfied such standards of education and physical fitness as may be prescribed.
However, across the world, millions of children do extremely hazardous work in harmful conditions, putting their health, education, personal and social development, and even their lives at risk. These are some of the circumstances they face:
• Full-time work at a very early age
• Dangerous workplaces
• Excessive working hours
• Subjection to psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse
• Obliged to work by circumstances or individuals
• Limited or no pay
• Work and life on the streets in bad conditions
• Inability to escape from the poverty cycle -- no access to education

What leads to Child Labour
The question arises in every mind concerned with child labour that what leads to child labour. The answers can be obtained from the following points:
a.) Poor family and less income leads to child labour. The child is forced to work and earn at a very lower age. It becomes a compulsion for them to work and earn livelihood for themselves and their families. Thus a child for the sake of his family is compelled to work in several places.

b.) Ignorance of parents towards education results in lack of education of child and he have no other options but to work and earn his livings.
c.) Children are found to be better producers of certain products such as knotted carpets and other such kinds of goods. Hence, these children are hired and exploited to work and produce such types of goods. This is known as “NIMBLE FINGER THEORY”.
d.) Discrimination on grounds including gender, race or religion also plays its part in why some children work at such tender age.
e.) Child trafficking is another cause of child labour. A number of children are bought and sold and are exploited to work as labourers, beggars, domestic workers, etc.
f.) In domestic matters, children can be made to work easily and at the low wage. Moreover, the masters can dominate them easily. Thus, the number of children working in households constitutes the major part of child labour.
Where do children work?
On the land (agricultural land, mining lands, etc.)
Nearly 70% of child labour occurs in agriculture, fishing, hunting, and forestry. Child labourers suffer extremely high illness and injury rates in underground mines, opencast mines, and quarries.
In households -- as domestic workers
Many children, especially girls, work in domestic service, sometimes starting as young as 5 or 6. This type of child labour is linked to child trafficking. Domestic child labourers can be victims of physical, emotional, and sometimes sexual abuse.
In factories – and other hazardous areas
About 15 million children are estimated to be directly involved in manufacturing goods for export.
• On the street -- as beggars
• Outdoor industry: brick kilns, mines, construction
• In bars, restaurants and tourist establishments
• In sexual exploitation

Girls are often obliged to be sex slaves or "soldiers' wives".
• As soldiers
There are about 300,000 child soldiers involved in over 30 areas of conflict worldwide, some even younger than 10 years old.
• Child trafficking

8.4 million Children are involved in work that, under any circumstance, is considered unacceptable for children, including the sale and trafficking of children into debt bondage, serfdom, and forced labour. It includes the forced recruitment of children for armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities, such as producing and trafficking drugs.
Most unfortunate thing of the society is that it does not look upon child labour much seriously. Infact, there are certain theories which argue that working of children should not be considered as child labour as they are for the benefit of the children and society. Some of these theories are:
a.) Nimble Finger theory: This theory argues that dextrous hands of child are essential for production of several articles of better quality like knotted carpets and similar types of articles.
b.) Poverty argument theory: This theory advocates that the employers are giving the employed child and his/her family favour by providing them their livelihood. However, this is based on purely false and mistaken sympathy.
c.) Child workers not child labourers: Some argue that if a child works in developed states it is known as child work and if he/she works in a developing society as India, it is considered as child labour. According to them, it is wrong to consider children working as child labour as this also lead to development of a country. However, this conception is also declared untrue.
Child labour has a different meaning with child work (in bahasa Indonesia these terms gives the same meanings). UNICEF defines Child Work as:
“Children’s participation in economic activity that does not negatively effect their health and development or interfere with education can be positive. Work that does not interfere with education (light work) is permitted from the age of 12 years under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138”.

While the definition of Child Labour:
“This is more narrowly defined and refers to children working in contravention of the above standards. This means all children below 12 years of age working in any economic activities, those age 12 to 14 years engaged in harmful work, and all children engaged in the worst forms of child labour.”

Why Child labour considered as a burning problem?
There are many problems, or it is better to say, a chain of problems linking with child labour. These are both economic as well as social. The social aspect is somewhat abstract and vast whereas the economic aspect is simple and mainly revolves around major problems like poverty, unemployment, etc. The social aspect revolves around what the people think and how do they react towards this problem and what action do they take against it. Some of the ill effects of child labour are listed below:
1. Many children in hazardous and dangerous jobs are in danger of injury, even death.
2. Most of the children involved in child labour are devoid of their education and hence lead to illiterate and ignorant citizens.
3. Working in dangerous and poisonous areas like mines and factories cause detriment to their health.
4. Working of children as sex slave is another threat to our society and its morals.
5. Working of child at such a tender age results in psychic or physical disorders.
6. The children are given very low wages as compared to the adults and thus they live in unhygienic and poor habitats.

These are some of the ill effects which proves that child labour is a burning problem of the world and must be looked up seriously not only for the welfare of a child but for the welfare and development of the whole nation.
Statistical Information
Child labour is growing at a very fast rate. How big is really this problem?
The question is very vague and somewhat difficult to answer. However, according to certain statistics an estimate can be drawn out to introduce ourselves to the size of the problem. Certain statistics concerning the number of child labour given below:

1. Survey by National Sample Survey Organisation in the year 1977-78 estimated the percentage of labour force was around 11% whereas in 1993-94 the percentage came down to 6.2%.
2. The 1981 Indian census reports that there were 13.6 million child labourers in India (Census of India 1981 cited in Weiner 1991, 20).
3. In 1991 census of India, the numbers indicated 11.28 million child labourers.
4. Survey by National Sample Survey Organisation 1993-94 estimated 13.3 million out of which 10.1 million to be employed full time.
5. Although the figure for the number of child labourers varies, they are all significantly high when considering that the Child Economic Activity rate for 1980-1991 was 13.5% for males and 10.3% for females (International Labour Organization, 1995, 113).
6. In comparison, other developing countries such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia (where data is available), have lower activity rates: 5.3% for males and 4.6% for females in Sri Lanka, and 8.8% for males and 6.5% for females in Malaysia (International Labour Organization, 1995, 113).
7. The International Labour Organization estimates there are
218 million working children aged between five and 17 (2006)
8. 126 million are estimated to work in the worst forms of child labour -- one in every 12 of the world's five to 17 years olds (2006)
9. 74 million children under 15 are in hazardous work and should be "immediately withdrawn from this work" (2006)
10. 8.4 million children are in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities (2002)
11. Girls are particularly in demand for domestic work
12. Around 70 per cent of child workers carry out unpaid work for their families.
13. According to the Government, the number of working children, estimated at 17.58 million in the 43rd round of child labour estimates, rose to 18.17 million in 1990 and will be 20.15 million in the year 2000.
14. The estimate of Operations Research Group in a study sponsored by the Labour Ministry reveal that about 44 million children in the 5-14 age group are in the labour force. A subsequent assessment has placed the figure of working children even higher at 114 million.

Many people argue that child labour takes place mainly due to self-will of the child involved in labour. They are of the opinion that neither the parents want their child to go to school nor the child want to go to the school, rather, they want to earn a few sum of money just by working in some hotels, factories, or other places. However, this assumption purely a myth. The fact is that it is the circumstances that led to involvement of child in forced labour. No child will want to work in such a hazardous and miserable conditions. Following examples will clear the misconceptions:
a.) "When I first moved to Port-au-Prince I cleaned dishes, the house, everything. My 'aunt' would beat me whenever I didn't get water. I worked so hard that my body ached and I couldn't move, but she would beat me if I didn't do more work. Her three children went to school...One day my aunt sent me to fetch water. I refused, so she took a pot of boiling water and threw it at me and burned my face and slammed the hot cooking pot on my hand."
Dieusibon , 14, ran away and found help from a shelter in Haiti.

b.) In Pakistan, brothers Mohen and Nihal began working on carpet looms when they were four and five years old in order to help their family meet, their basic needs. "The health hazards caused to us are that our fingers are trimmed and we have to work all day long. Often for a couple of days in a week, we have to work for the whole day and night. Mohen often gets miserable and fatigued with the long hours or work and he tries to escape. Then the master weaver keeps a strict watch on him and never lets him move for three or four days.”
c.) When Ahmed was five years old he was trafficked from Bangladesh to the United Arab Emirates to be a camel jockey. He was forced to train and race camels in Dubai for three years.
"I was scared .... If I made a mistake I was beaten with a stick. When I said I wanted to go home I was told I never would. I didn't enjoy camel racing, I was really afraid. I fell off many times. When I won prizes several times, such as money and a car, the camel owner took everything. I never got anything, no money, nothing; my family also got nothing."
Ahmed was only returned home after a Bangladesh official identified him during a visit to Dubai in November 2002.
Thus, the above examples make it clear that how are the children, forced to work, are treated and no one will want to be in a situation like this unless bounded by shackles of misery and poverty. Hence, it is the circumstances that make it a compulsion for these children to work as a labour.

Legal actions and plans by Govt.
The elimination or removal of child labour is a very difficult task, if not impossible. The problem of child labour is overlapped and inter connected adhesively with the world’s major problems such as population, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and others. Thus, for elimination of this evil, it requires concerned efforts from all sections of the society.

However, the legislation is trying for the regulation of child labour in our country. The first attempt at child labour legislation was made by Factories Act 1881. Then in 1911, the Factories Act prohibited employment of children in dangerous occupations and working during night hours.
The first convention of ILO compelled amendment of the act in 1922, to raise the minimum age of the children to work to 15 years. Children below 13 years were prohibited for employment. However, the age was raised to 13 years in 1935 under the Act.
The present Factories Act 1948 prescribes prohibitory actions for employment of children below 14 years of age in any factory.
Indian Mines Act, 1951 prohibits employment of children below 16 years in any underground mines.

After the enactment of these acts, the main instrument for the regulation of child labour was launched by the legislature in the year 1986. This was the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. It came into being due to the requirement of ILO convention and foresee ness of National Seminar on Employment of Children in 1975, to prevent exploitation of children. Indian government felt a need to enact a single law to deal with prohibition of Child Labour. In 1979, Gurupadswamy committee was setup to study the problem of child labour and evolve the measures to sort out this problem. This committee also agreed for the enactment of a single law to govern child labour. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. It noted that any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition. The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a comprehensive policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children. Based on the recommendations of this committee, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. The Act prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others.
The list of hazardous occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act.
The Conventions of the International Labour Organization, the 1926 and 1956 Slavery Conventions and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are the major tools used for regulation of the child labour.
The other instruments used for the eradication or regulation of child labour were:
Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989):
"State Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”

Convention 182 of the International Labour Organization (1999):
The main aim of Convention 182 is to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. It stresses that immediate action is needed to tackle the worst exploitation of children and that measures taken by the authorities should start as soon as the government is able following ratification.
Moreover, the Indian government has taken a step forward by enacting a law to ban domestic work and some other forms of labour by children under age 14. The new law covers restaurant and hotel work as well as domestic labour. However, it provides no protection for children aged 14 to 18, who also face exploitation and abuse by their employers.

“This ban on child domestic labour is a welcome step, but changes on paper are not enough,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, senior researcher for the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. “If the Indian authorities are serious about protecting children from hazardous labour, the state governments should start prosecuting abusive employers and rehabilitating child workers.”
The major problem infront of the legislature and the government is to rehabilitate the children deprived from the works. As the work they were doing was the only source of their income, it is important for the government to take certain steps for rehabilitation of these children.
The Government has been alive to the need for release of these children from hazardous work and for their rehabilitation – physical, emotional and economic- through education. With this end in view, the National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in August 1987. The National Child Labour projects were conceptualized and launched around the same time. Later on this was reinforced and strengthened for the total liberation of all children in the age group of 5 to 14 employed in hazardous work and for their physical and emotional rehabilitation through a composite package under the National Child Labour Projects which are to be administered by the District Child Labour Project Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1960. Under the scheme 12 National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) were started in Andhra Pradesh (Jaggampet and Markapur), Bihar (Zarwah), Madhya Pradesh (Mandsaur), Maharashtra (Thane), Orissa (Sambalpur), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Tamil Nadu (Sivakasi) and Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi-Mirzapur-Bhadoi, Moradabad, Aligarh and Ferozabad)….. For the Tenth Plan period, the Planning Commission has allocated Rs.667.50 crore for child labour schemes.
Many other organisations (both governmental and N.G.O.’s) are stepping forward for the upliftment of these children and regulation and eradication of child labour. Some of these institutions or organisations are CRY, Child Rights Information Network, Concerned for Working Children (CWC), Global march, International Organisation of Employers. Partnership for child development, etc.
However, even after acting of these institutions only a fewer cases of child labour can be solved. The main problem being poverty and illiteracy. The number of children not getting primary education is very high, particularly in India. Thus to tackle the problem steps should be taken in more specialized manner. There is a need to impart education to the child workers. Though they cannot attend the normal schools during the usual school timings, the only alternative is to provide them with some agency of education at a time when they are free . For this purpose, however, various governmental as well as non-government organisations have set up certain night schools in various places. This system will definitely make them right conscious and realize the benefits, which are given to them by the government and legislature. An important step taken by the government is the well-known Sarva Sikhsha Abhijan, which aims at globalization elementary education that is education from 6-14 years.
All the above policies seems to be useless when one founds that Government is itself involved in the practice of this evil. Many cases have been brought out which gives a clear evidence involvement of Government’s hand in this matter. In many of the small states, including the newly formed Chhattisgarh, and the older ones like Karnataka, mManipura, etc. India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 11, 1992. Children are often forced to take up arms in India after losing a close relative in the conflict.
The other cause is of enforcement and implementation. The legislature makes the law efficiently but where we fail is the area of implementation and enforcement of these laws. There are various areas where even now a number of children are working as domestic workers, in restaurant and small dhabas. However, the society is responsible on the same line parallel to the government is. Without the help of the common people, no government can solve this heinous devil known as child labour.
Thus child labour is still a burning problem in India and we must be ready and, more importantly, willing to combat this evil which is spreading its wings larger day by day. However, the government is trying but without the concern of the people, this problem cannot be eradicated. The recently conducted surveys are telling that laws enforcements leaves lot to be desired. On the other hand if a child or his/her parents are unaware of the rights they are privileged with, it makes the task harder. If the family is poor and illiteracy resides in the houses, it becomes a very difficult matter, if not impossible, to eradicate this problem solely by the government itself. Therefore, if the society and the government work together hand in hand, it would be an able effort to regulate and eradicate this problem from our country and make it a better country of our dream. The Latin Maxim ‘boni judicis est ampliare juridictionem’(meaning law must keep pace with the society to retain its relevance, for if the society moves but law remains static, it shall be had for both. ) must be followed practically. “Children are our assets.” The common people should consider this quote and the children’s must utilize their potential for the welfare of the nation and to make our “DREAM NATION” the “TRUE NATION”.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...