KASHMIR JUVENILE LOSE THEIR CHILDHOOD TO LABOUR DUE TO POVERTY
SRINAGAR, JAN, 10: Despite tall claims made by successive governments, Education to all is still a dream for thousands of children in the state, reveals a survey conducted by “National Sample Survey of Estimation of out-of-school Children in the age group of 6-13 in India”. Ironically with child labor continuing unbridled at most of the work places in Kashmir, the silence adopted by authorities over the issue is depriving thousands of children of their childhood.
A child selling carry Bags in Srinagar.
According to reports from various places across Kashmir valley suggest that children below the age of 11 and less have been employed to do most of the menial jobs owing to the abject poverty their families are facing during these tough times. Meanwhile organizations working for the eradication of child labor suggests that thousands of children are forced to earn a livelihood for themselves and for their families and on the way sacrificing their dreams, their hope, and their childhood. Majority of child laborers are in the age group of 11 to 14 years.These juveniles are seen working as bag hawkers on streets, vegetable vendor, and at automobile shots, hence skipping schooling. However, people at large in Kashmir believe that poverty as a major reason behind the child labour amid growing unemployment. Javid Ahmad a local resident believes that the free education and good awareness can be a vital contribution to eradicate the menace of child labour. He added the role of government is major so far as these issues are concerned. Sqib Khan who is 13 years old selling warm clothes at a street in Lalchowk said that he has to support his family as his father hardly mange to fed his family adding that if he goes to school how come he will be able to make money. However another juvenile Mustaq Nazir said that he miss his school which he left a year ago as his father could not afford his school expenses.
Interestingly, the state’s labor department admits that the problem of child labour is widespread in Kashmir Valley, but the department fails to provide a solution to this burning issue. Assistant Labor Commissioner Srinagar, Gulzar Ahmed when asked acknowledged that child labor is prevalent in Valley. “We have booked many people and have summoned people under child labor regulations across the Valley who have deployed children under fourteen years of age. But in certain cases children are working with their family units or have not sought any permission from their employers. Still we are not leaving any stone unturned and are registering case against people,” Gulzar Ahmad added. “We are doing our best to curb this menace but it’s the responsibility of the parents as well to change their approach and utilize the facilities and programs that government has provided for the children who are working instead of receiving the education,” Gulzar added.
Pertinently according to the survey that was conducted during 2014, the total number of children in the age group of 6-13 in Jammu and Kashmir are 2227225 out of which 45468 children are still out of school which constitute 2.04% of total children number children. As per the survey there are 44177 Muslim children in the age group of 6-13 who are out of school while as there are only 1291 Hindu children and for other religions the survey has shown a zero. “There are 2287 students who are out of school are enrolled but have never attended a school,” reads the Survey. The report has also sighted reasons for the inability among the children to get education and among numerous reasons poverty and economic constraints are cited by majority of head of the households having an out of school child. Child not interested in studies is also frequently cited as a reason for dropping out of school. Disability or poor health is another main factor stopping children to get education.