Mumbai : In the run-up to the World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June 2013, Child Rights NGO CRY – Child Rights and You has released a study which tracks the health and education levels of children living in the brick kiln areas of Ahmednagar.
80 per cent of the children of migrant workers do not go to school
Many help their parents by performing tasks such as arranging the bricks for drying and collecting the broken and improperly moulded bricks.
48 per cent of schools are more than 2 km from the Kilns
Poor transport facilities hamper children from going to school
34 % of ICDS centres are more than 3 km from the brickiln areas
There is a very high prevalence of Malnutrition and Stunting in these areas.
53 % Primary Health centres and Sub Centres are located more than 5 km away from the kilns
Children are exposed to Toxic fumes as Kilns use waste, tyres, and coal as fuel
Children in the area face respiratory problems like asthma, chronic chest infection, Silicosis, TB
The study reveals that almost 80 per cent of children of the migrant labourers working in Ahmednagar’s brick kilns do not go to school. Many of the children come from migratory labour families and therefore have dropped out of school to travel with their families. A case in point is Anjali*, who was studying in the 2nd standard last year (2011-2012). She and her brother, Tanay* were forced to drop out of school when their parents migrated to the brick kiln in Rahata taluka. The family had no additional support in their village of Hatvalan and were therefore compelled to take their children along when they migrated for work. The schools in the Rahata taluka are too far away, and so Anjali and Tanay have never been re-enrolled in school.
The Maharashtra government State RTE Rules mentions appropriate child tracking systems to track children from dropping out or being absent for more than a month. However the study findings state that there is certainly no tracking which is currently happening to ensure that children are in school.
The study also revealed that many of the children in and around the brick kiln areas are drawn into labour as they tend to help their parents by arranging the bricks for drying and collecting the broken and improperly moulded bricks. Once they get older, they are drawn into the trade, having being trained at a young age. Anjali and Tanay help their parents in the kilns on a daily basis – small errands like sweeping the work places and rolling mud into balls that will eventually be moulded and shaped into bricks by their parents. At home, they help with domestic activities such as cleaning, and fetching water to free-up time for the adults to devote their time into making bricks.
Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director – West Region, CRY – Child Rights and You says, “The situation is highly complex as the children are not directly employed. Their work helps to increase the productivity of the adults they assist – which is necessary as wages are based on piece rates, rather than time spent at work. Therefore, the system operates in such a manner that children become natural partners in the process of brick production. As they grow older, they get pulled into full-time work, having already been trained at a young age.”
Working in a Brick Kiln has been identified as hazardous process under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, and children under 14 years of age are prohibited from being employed in them. The proposed Child Labor (P&R) amendment bill 2012 aims to align the Child Labor (P&R) with the RTE Act, 2009 and prohibit all children up to the age of 14 years in any form of work whether hazardous or non hazardous. But unfortunately the schedule which had listed a Brick Kiln as a hazardous process has been substituted, and working in brick kiln is no more a hazardous process for children between the age group of 14-18 years.
Says Ms. Rabadi, “This age group is the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The National Policy of Children 2013 declares that all children from 0 to 18 years need to be protected and provided with all the facilities of health, education, nutrition and protection. Yet, 14-to-18-year-olds in this country find themselves unprotected by the very laws designed to ensure their rights – the RTE Act 2009 – which absolves itself from responsibility once they turn 14, and the Child Labour (P & R) Act, which welcomes them into the labour force with open arms.”
The study, which was conducted with CRY’s on-ground partner – Vanchit Vikas Sansthan (VVS) tracked 10 brick kilns in 4 talukas of the Ahmednagar district over a period of one month. The objective of the study was to ascertain the status of service – health, nutrition and education – for the children living in the area.
In over three decades of working on the issues that affect children, CRY has found a strong link between the lack of schools and child labour. CRY has been working with local on-ground partners to ensure that children in the brick kilns have access to essential services like functioning schools, ICDS centres and local PDS shops where their parents can find essentials at affordable prices, so that the children themselves are ultimately are removed from labour. CRY is also working with the families themselves to ensure that the children are re-enrolled in school and have sufficient food and nutrition.
At a larger level, through engagements with the government, media, and campaigns with the public, CRY is advocating for policies that ensure all children, up to 18 years, get the childhood that they deserve. And with the national elections not far off, CRY urges all political parties to make a commitment to protect and honour the rights of our children by putting children first on their agendas.
Source : Sachin Murdeshwar