"In all the civilized societies all over the world system of child labour is condemned as a social evil but the fact is the system is prevelent on a large scale in a country like India. It is noticed that, in recent times our society is showing some signs of awareness about this social evil. This is the first part of the article giving details about the efforts undertaken in and around Ahmedpur for eradication of this system.
Since past 12 years I am working on various issues related to rural areas through People's Institute of Rural Development and Rachanatmac Sangharsha Samiti (Maharashtra). To generate employment for farm labour through "employment guarantee scheme"is our sustained and major activity. While working with farm labour during 1988-90 I was exposed to the issue of Child Labour. When I saw the children working as child or boned Labour in agriculture, I could realise the intensity of this issue.
Agriculture is a main source of employment for labour in rural areas. Child Labour working in farms, or as a bonded labour or as a herdsman has an adverse impact on the employment of adult people. When dialogue was initialed with farm labour on this issue. They narrated that when child works as a Child Labour he/she actually supports the family. They feel that child provides something to eat to a family. This is a general feeling among the rural masses about Child Labour. The common understanding among this labour class is more working hands means more income for a family. But this calls still could not decide, whose hands these should be? They are not understanding that small hands are depriving of big hands from employment.
The difficult life they are living and ignorance of these farm labour is responsible for such type of their attitude towards their own children. It made us realised that there is a need of structural changes in the society and we resolved to work for structural changes. In the society and we resolved to work for structural changes. In the initial period neither we had any plan nor a concrete stralgy to deal with the situation. We decide to have a dialogue with farm labour on this issue. Already we were discussing with them about employment minimum wages, equal wages for equal work, laws for the profection of a farm labour etc. while discussing these issue we always had positive attitude and approach. We used to tell them sending children to work means depriving of them the apportunity to go to school. If a child will not to go to school, he/she will grow as illiterate person. Valnerable for all sorts of exploitation please send them to school. It will be better if they remain unemployed after getting e ducation. We were always insisting that they should send their children to school. Our perception was if children will go to school then automatically no. of child labour will be reduced which will result in generating some employment for Addults.
After sometime, we realised that, what ever efforts we may do, it will never be possible to aduilt all the children from this class to school. This realisation directed us to conceive a programme called "Education programme for child Labour" Immediately its implementation was started. In the process of implementation of this nonformal education programme for child Labour, in depth thinking was going on, on this issue. At this juncture, TDH and YUVA took the initiative and started "Campaign against Child Labour" on 14th Nov. 1992. Since the first meeting we are associated with this campaign and working for it.
Though we have an ambition to work for eradication of a system of Child Labour we are aware of the scope and magnitude of the problem and our own limitations. Therefore; based on our own assessment of our capacities we have decided to implement following programmes; 1) Education programme for child Labour.