Bangalore: Karnataka’s latest draft action plan on child labour sets 2017 as the deadline to eliminate child labour in hazardous sectors, and 2020 for its complete abolition.
On the other hand, the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2010, makes access to education a fundamental right from April 1 and places the obligation of enrolment of every child in school on the Government.
Several child rights activists see a contradiction in the intent of the State’s action plan that has given itself a generous deadline and the Central Act that promises immediate action.
They argue that the Karnataka Government cannot claim time till the end of the decade to eliminate child labour since denial of access to education amounts to violation of a fundamental right in the light of the RTE.
Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), Karnataka, an umbrella organisation consisting of about 650 organisation throughout the State, has decided to reject the new action plan on the ground that it undermines the promise of RTE. “We are demanding a convergence between the State’s plan and the Central Act,” said Nagasimha, convenor of CACL.
This action plan’s time-frame to achieve universalisation of education, CACL says, is particularly unjustifiable since the earlier action plan of the State — Karnataka State Plan of Action for Children — had set itself the goal of providing “eight years of schooling to every child in the State” by 2010. The present plan is the third such since 2001. While the first plan drafted when S.M. Krishna was Chief Minister promised elimination of child labour by 2007, the second said that child labour would be abolished in 2010.
“It is ridiculous to keep on postponing implementation simply by drafting one action plan after another,” said Mathews Philip, convenor of the advocacy wing of CACL. Members of CACL feel that there is a need to do a review of how much of the earlier plans have been implemented before drafting a third.
The draft copy of the State’s action plan — Draft Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour in Karnataka (2010-2017) — is available on the website of the Child Resource Centre on Child Labour, which is a part of the Labour Department, at http://www.karunadu.gov.in/karnatakachildlabour/home.aspx. The department has invited objections to the draft plan.