01 February 2017

Invest in education

The incidence of child labour in Nepal is high compared with other countries in South Asia. According to data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other national surveys, Nepal has 34% of its children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are involved in child labour, compared with 12% in the South Asia region as a whole.
Nepal’s poor economic status contributes to the high rate of child labor and poverty. When families are faced with monetary hardships, they are often forced to send their children to work, sometimes in extremely hazardous conditions.
One of the most effective ways to combat child labor is to change misunderstanding from within. This can only be done through education. Education acts not only as a way develop the minds of children, but also as a foundation for social change.
Education can transform a child’s life. Going to school opens up new avenues and opportunities with child learning to think, explore, discover, question and acquire knowledge.
Only if all working children are in school can equity and justice be ensured, further deepening the foundation of our democracy. We must create a social trust and faith in the poor, to stand by them, and celebrate their victories for having taken the right decision to send their children to schools instead of work.
The education of a child should not be hindered by a family’s income. Moreover, schools should be tailored to accommodate the needs of all the children. Various types of schooling, such as formal, informal, non-formal, vocational, semi-vocational or pre-vocational education could be introduced.
Child workers are not the only ones who need to be educated. Parents must also be aware of the dangers of child labor, the devastating effects working may have on their children and on the larger society, and most importantly, their feasible options (education, government programs, etc.).
There is no better investment for a society than education. Educating children today has a lifelong impact on their health, nutrition, employment and growth. Most fundamentally, education is a basic human right to be addressed.
Every census shows staggering figures of children engaged in labour across the country. In fact, we see this being directly proportional to the increasing poverty in the country.

(A version of this article appears in print on February 01, 2017 of The Himalayan Times by Pramod Bhattarai)

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