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3.8 million children in India work as child labourers, often involved in hazardous jobs. The recent amendments in the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) allows child labour in “family or family enterprises”. This is likely to increase the involvement of children in agriculture because it is usually a family enterprise. This will now cause hindrance in letting children experience a happy and safe childhood.

Production of spices comprises an important part of India’s agricultural sector as India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices. 69.5 percent of child labour (5-14 age) in India works in the agricultural sector (according to a 2013 report titled ‘Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour’ by the US Department of Labour).

Children are forced into spice farming because of alarming issues like poverty, lack of awareness about education, and lack of protection mechanisms. 44 percent of children working in the spice industry have dropped out of school. Children receive almost 30 percent less wages than adults for similar nature and duration of work.

Bal Raksha Bharat is working in Guntur, one of the nine coastal districts in Andhra Pradesh. The district is the largest producer of chillies in India and therefore it is a lucrative sector for traders. Many children work in these chilli farms. Chilli culvitation takes place is hot summers and children are often prone to occupational hazards like sunstrokes and breathing problems because of chilli dust.

This project aims at promoting child rights in 30 spice-growing villages by strengthening school and community-based mechanisms by 2020. Through our interventions, children between the ages of 6-14 years in the spice-growing villages are being enrolled in schools.

Key Achievements

  • 30 Academic Learning centres with Teaching Learning material are effectively functioning to support children to enhance their learning levels and foresee retention of children during spice farming season
  • Organised Teachers Training on Child Friendly teaching and Learning
  • 53 Village Bala Sabhas were organised with active involvement of 761 Boys and 711 Girls and 495 Men and 418 Women members. In the Bala Sabhas, children demanded basic amenities
  • Community-based groups have been set up in 21 villages to ensure that the environment is conducive for children to learn
  • 51 Community Reading Camps were organised in 30 villages
  • 30 Children Groups with 519 members were formed in 30 village
  • Bal Sabha (Childrens’ Groups) meetings have been conducted on a regular basis
  • Suggestion boxes were installed in 30 schools and a complaint redressal mechanism was implemented.
  • 127 school level meetings with Children Groups were organized in the project schools
  • Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Campaign were organized in 14 villages by utilizing the local folk medium “Kalajatha

Abject poverty and migration of families has led to a high dropout rate and absenteeism. Besides, there is a serious lack of awareness on the importance and benefits of social protection schemes. These challenges were overcome by constantly engaging with the children and their community. We sensitise them on their rights. Community members are being roped in at every step of the project with an aim to empower them so that they can stand up for their rights.

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