India has the highest number of child laborers anywhere in the world. Mainly focused in rural area, 80% of working children live in India’s villages where most of them work in agriculture.
However, it’s not just India. The rest of the world is not far behind.
An estimated 60% of child labor occurs all over the world. Lets look at agriculture alone – children have been found harvesting flowers in Columbia, tea in Argentina and Bangladesh, fruits and vegetables in the United States, cocoa in Ghana, rice in India, Kenya, Burma, tobacco in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, oranges in Brazil, cotton in China, the list goes on and on!
Closer home, lets look at solutions. Education has always been seen as the way out of poverty for the child. Very few Indian states have consciously worked towards providing education across the complete age timeline of a student. In spite of overpopulation, in the state of Kerala in South India, literacy levels have always been at 100%.
Last year, Kerala became the first state in the country to achieve 100% total primary education status as declared officially by India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari. The present commitment is to achieve total Plus-Two education in the state. So how does it help child labor?
When parents are educated, the concern for the value of a good education is translated to the young. The economic odds are often insurmountable but Keralan parent’s have always given up a lot for their children’s education. Other states have done the same, but it is at a far slower pace.
I photographed this boy as he walked towards me amongst the tea plantations fields of Munnar in the Western Ghats. This boy helps out wherever necessary at the farm in Kerala, and though his studies take precedence over his farm work, anxiety about having access to the right jobs will always be present. Gulf jobs are no longer as lucrative as in the past decades. The 21st C demands are tough. Anxiety is writ large amongst caretakers of the Gen Z and Gen Alpha demographics who are still in schools and colleges.
Designing effective education solutions of an unseen future has become the new challenge for the forward-looking educators. Only education can help combat child labor – education for both the child and the child’s parents.
Coming back to my hero Thor, I waited until he came just enough so that he is eyeball close and yet has the whole scene encompassing his environmental story behind him!
#worlddayagainstchildlabour #sudhirramchandran #photography