Former child labourers manage to go to school

June 12th, 2008 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Amid all disheartening facts and figures being highlighted on World Day against Child Labour Thursday, Swarupa and Minarul are a beacon of hope. Former child labourers themselves, they fought all challenges and succeeded in going to school. “I used to work in cotton fields for 12 hours every day since I was 12. Since my employer used to pay in advance to my family, I had no option but to work … Sometimes to entice me to continue working, the employer’s family used to let me watch some television too,” Swarupa said at a conference on child labour here.

The 20-year-old, who is a source of inspiration in her Andhra Pradesh village, said: “One day I came to know about a residential bridge course camp organised by an NGO that was taking place in my village and I ran away from home to join it.

“Despite my father’s wrath, I stayed there for two months. After that I came back home, convinced my parents and joined a school in my village.”

Not only did she complete schooling, she also did her graduation in economics and a course in computer science. She now works with Idea, a leading mobile service provider.

Minarul Haque Mondal, also a former child labourer, said at the conference that he had to face some tough challenges before he could get admission in a school in his Assam village.

“I was five when I joined my father to work in a brick kiln in Rajasthan, where my family had migrated to. After seven years, we came back to Assam and my father was eager to educate me but when we approached a school, its principal said I was already 11 and thus over-age for school,” said Mondal, smartly dressed in a starched shirt and trousers and accompanied by his father.

“Thankfully, an NGO intervened, and urged the principal to let me join school. Today I am very happy to say that I go to school every day … My roll number is five. Someday I dream to be a teacher and encourage all children in my village to go to school.”

Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said on the sidelines of the conference: “Often, children who have been pulled out of work don’t get admission in schools because of being overage. I will write to the education ministry for some flexibility in rural schools so that the age doesn’t act as a hindrance for children to study.”

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