Shangpung Mission and Shangpung Pohshnong are the two villages adopted by honorable MP Shri VH Pala has been declared as Child Labour Free villages on Independence day 2015. The Department of Labour West Jaintia Hills in collaboration with the villagers, village heads and the whole team of SAGY worked hand in glove to reach this goal.
Surveys, awareness programmes and signature campaigns were conducted by the Labour Department in West Jaintia Hills. On the 15 August 2015 the two villages were awarded Child labour Free villages and ODF villages during the celebration during the Independence day celebration at the distric Headquarter, Jowai.
It is encouraging to see that it is not only the departments but the village Durbar and villagers have given all efforts to reach the goal.
Working Towards Making Shangpung Mission And Pohchnong Free From Child Labour.
Report on the Working Towards Making Shangpung Mission And Pohchnong Free From Child Labour.
Introduction: - The declaration of Shangpung Mission and Shangpung Pohchnong as a “Model Village” by the Hon’ble M. P. Lok Sabha provides an opportunity to the labour department to focus on these two areas as a priority on the need for urgent action to eliminate all forms of child labour from these two localities. In fact, the fighting and campaigning for the “Stop Child Labour” has been going-on during the last couple of years all over Jaintia Hills Districts. The “Stop child labour campaigns” aims to remove and rescue children below 14 year of age from work in the the prohibited schedule employments and re-integrated them back into schools as per the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
In the fight to eliminate child labour from the district, the labour department has conducted regular inspection raids with the members of the task force team to all kinds of establishments locating in different parts of the district. During the raids, some children have been rescued from child labour and restored back their childhood and their right to education and appropriate penalties have been imposed against the offenders as per provisions of the Child Labour Prohibition Act, 1986 and Supreme Court directions. But inspite of that, it is agreed that many children might be loosing their childhood everyday because it is impossible to detect every child labour working in different types of occupations or processes as they are often invisible. Frankly speaking, it is like a leaking pot, while we plug one hole, a new ones spring open.
Duty of Labour Department towards Making a Model Village:-The main duty of Labour Department towards making a Model Village is eradication of child labour by strict enforcement of the Child Labour law as specified under Sansaad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) Scheme. In this connection, a series of meetings and consultations were held with the Block Development Officer (BDO), Laskein Block and local authorities towards the making of Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong Free from Child Labour”.
Starting the Campaigns Towards Making Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong Free from Child Labour:-
To begin with, it is important to clarify the child labour law in the day to day activities to the general public for their supports and participations as follows:-
Child Labour is defined as any Work performed by a person who has not completed fourteen (14) year of age as it is likely to interfere with his / her education or to be harmful to their health, physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development.
Let’s be clear that child labour is any labour that prevents a child from receiving a full time formal education. Helping around the house or farm or working in a family shop on weekends for a few hours after school during the week is not child labour. In fact, this kind of work can be good for a young person as it helps them to learn valuable life skills. However, if this work prevents a child from receiving a full time formal education and when it contravenes existing laws on the minimum age and conditions for employment, it becomes child labour.
Strictly speaking, the Child Labour Act, 1986 is prohited employment of children only to the schedule employment as set forth in Part-A & B of occupations and processes but the approach here towards making Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong free from child labour should be that all labour by a child which is preventing him or her from getting formal full time quality education should be translated as child labour. Keeping this in mind, the campaign starts from this principle that no child should work; every child must be in school.
(1) Domestic Child Servants:- Children working in household duties at the home of an employer. It has come out several times in the National News that many of these children were working in slavery or slave-like conditions and thereby risk their health, safety and moral well-being. However, it should be kept in mind that this category does not include normal household chores done as a member of their family.
(2) Hazardous Child Labour:- Hazardous child labour is defined as work that by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children. Such work include physical, psychological, sexual abuse, work underground at dangerous heights or in confined spaces, work with dangerous machinery, work with hazardous materials, work with long hours and work in mine which is the worst form of child labour.
Having clearly understood that child labour cannot be tackled by this department alone as it is a societal and a human rights issue and bringing an end to all forms of child labour and to challenge those who would argue for its retention is very challenging. Strictly speaking, child labour can be eliminated only if all of us take responsibility to ensure that no one permit or allow child labour to exist in our respective area and we must come forward to protest against any individual or employer with whom we do business for fully compliant with the existing laws to protect the rights of children.
It is also a fact that child labour exists because people accept it and make excuses for it when there are no excuses for child labour. All forms of child labour are unacceptable under labour laws and the right of children to free and compulsory to full-time education should be respected. The practice of child labour under any circumstances is not accepted to labour department and every responsible people should comdemn it.
Fields Work:- To meet this objective, a series of activities and remedial measures such as Door to Door survey, Inspections of Shops and other Establishments, Awareness Campaigns and Pledging of Residents, etc. have been undertaken with a view to identify and rescue child labour from work and also to prevent child labour from future illegal employment in the areas.
The Deputy Labour Commissioner proposed to both the headmen to conduct separate door to door survey in their respectively localities to identify child labour while the labour officials conduct door to door survey on its own. In line with this decision, the DorbarChnong of Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong conducted House-to-House survey by covering all 136 and 398 households respectively and the report obtained from them certifying that no child labour found to be employed. The Headmen also make Public announcement from time to time on the prohibition of engaging child labour. Similarly, door to door survey was also conducted by the labour inspector, Laskein Block and the outcome of his report also shows that no child labour found to be employed. The Child labour pamphlets were also distributed to every household during the survey. The signature pledge campaign was also taken by almost every household not to permit or allow the practice of child labour in their areas and to work hand in hand with the Government Authorities to prevent child labour from existing in future. The total number of pledge obtained is 624, 225 from Shangpung Mission and 399 from Shangpung Pohchnong.
This approach is very useful as it brings people participation and also gives ample opportunity to interact regularly with the local authorities for better understanding on the evil of child labour and its urgent need to remove from the society. This plan also helps to mobilize and build consensus to the residents on the issue of total elimination of child labour. Every family member gets motivated and pledge to work hand-in-hand with the labour office to remove children from work and restore them back to schools. It is also understood that enrolment of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years in schools are being taken care of by the education department.
Awareness Campaigns for Total Elimination of Child Labour at Shangpung Mission & Pohchnong: - After moving a step closer towards making Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong free from child labour, an Awareness programme was conducted on 4th and 6th August, 2015. There were 230 and 270 participants attended the programme respectively and they were representing different NGOs, Church Leaders, Elders, Women groups, Teachers, Students, etc. Apart from the issue of child labour legislation, the labour also focus on the Juvenile Justice Act and its implications for child labour, function of Childline and Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, as a means to promote the convergence approach in elimination of child labour. The Resource persons comprised officials of Labour Department, Education Department, Child Protection Officer and Child line Coordinator.
It is strongly believe that the working towards making Shangpung mission and pohchnong free from child labour of all forms cannot be achieved without involving local authorities including community groups, parents, employers, local NGOs, teachers, Church Leaders, women groups, youths, etc. In the Awareness programme, the Deputy Labour Commissioner again sought the support and involvement of every individual and motivates them to become the agents in changing the mindset of every individual in the village. He insists the community to track every child labour under 14 year of age and withdraw from work and put them back into schools.
Further, the Deputy Labour Commissioner said that children’s future is strongly shaped by the parent’s actions and attitudes. Sometimes unknowingly parents take decisions, which are not good for their children. Sometimes parents decide that their children need not attend primary schools. Such parent decisions can affect the child readiness for primary school. At other times parents decide it is best for the child to drop out school and start working. Such parent decisions can affect the child readiness for a skilled and well paying job as an adult. In such situation, the Village Community Worker can prevent such fruitless decisions and create opportunities for parents to interact with knowledgeable members in the community who can suggest ways to keep the child in school.
The Deputy Labour Commissioner concluded by sharing his experience that given the opportunity and support they need, poor and vulnerable parents are willing to withdraw their children from work and enroll them in school. Even though parents were not given any incentives or financial assistance, they still want their children to receive education.
Conclusion: - After carrying a series of intensive activities such as Door to Door survey, Inspections of Shops and other Commercial Establishments, Public announcement, distribution of Pamphlets, Awareness Campaigns and Pledging of Residents, etc. it can be concluded confidently that Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong is at present free from child labour till today, the 15th August, 2015. This historic achievement is created jointly by the Labour Department, Headmen, village Executive Members and Residents of both the localities. With the pledging of 624 residents, 225 from Shangpung Mission and 399 from Pohchnong, it is hoped that the working towards making Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong free from child labour shall continue in future too in order to maintain this historic achievement and to prevent children from work and re-integrate to full time quality education.“Pledging Towards Making Shangpung Mission & Pohchnong Free from Child Labour”
I, Shri / Smt……………………………………………………………………………of Shangpung Mission / Pohchnong hereby pledge to work towards the creation of “Child Labour Free” village with the Labour Department and all Working children shall be withdrawn from child labour and Re-integrated into formal and full time School.
Name & Signature with date.
The Labour Department and the district task force have been fighting to eliminate child labour from the district for the last few years. Soon after the selection of Shangpung Mission and Pohchnong as a model village by the hon’ble M. P. Lok Sabha, a top priority was given to the labour office by the Nodal Officer, SAGY on the urgent need to eliminate child labour from these localities. It is well understood that complete elimination of child labour is a herculean task and very challenging, but at same time, it is believe that creating child labour free village can be achieved through participatory of villagers especially the elected representative of the village members, men, women, youths, Church Leaders, groups, NGOs, etc.
Before taking forward the various steps, a consultation process was made with Headmen, executive members, church leaders, men, women, youths, villagers, etc. through awareness raising, meetings, inspections, pamphlets distribution, etc. The idea was to make people aware of the exploitative nature of child labour and the importance of education to children. For this to become reality, the active participation and cooperation of the whole community is very essential.
The following steps were taken to eliminate child labour from shangpung mission and pohchnong.
1. Raids and rescue operation-conducted by the Labour inspector.
2. Door to door Survey conducted by the Labour Inspector, Laskein Block.
3. Door to door survey conducted by Headmen of respective village.
4. Awareness Campaigns by the District Task Force Team.
5. Pledge by villagers.
It was through these programmes, the labour office and task force members were able to make them realize that ending child labour is necessary and they decided that it was high time that they took things in their hands to do something and become part of the solutions. It is strongly believe that when people of the village get involved and think the problems in the village as their own problems, there will be nothing that cannot be achieved and a child labour free village was created.
It must be cleared that it is not necessary that once these two localities are declared free of child labour, it will remain so in the long run. It needs to be monitored regularly from time to time and with the support and pledge of village representatives and villagers, it is hoped that it can be maintained in the long future.
“Long Live Shangpung Mission And Shangpung Pohchnong”.