Success story showcased at every available forum
It started off as yet another initiative launched by a new Collector but none would have realised that in 90-days a record breaking effort brought laurels to the agriculture-rich Nizamabad district.
The successful intervention against child labour in Velpur mandal of the district by then Collector G. Asok Kumar has been showcased at every available forum including international platforms on how concerted efforts can bring the smiles back on the young children.
Earlier this week, the path-breaking effort completed 20-years and still Velpur, a progressive agriculture village in Armoor sub-division stands out for making the mandal child labour-free. To commemorate the occasion, VV Giri National Labour Institute, under the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment is organising a workshop on Friday in Nizamabad.
Dream come true
Mr. Asok Kumar, presently Additional Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, who was the Collector in 2001 said: “the successful drive against child-labour practices in Nizamabad were the outcome of a dream translated into action.”
The National Child Labour Project (NCLP) of the Union Government had identified this district as a child labour- prone district and had started 34 NCLP schools in the district in 1994 itself. An intensive 90 days’ drive, starting from July 9, 2001, was taken up in the mandal under the leadership of the then Collector. On October 2, 2001 Velpur was declared as a child labour free mandal. All the 8057 children in the mandal were in schools.
The village community played a key role. All gram panchayats passed formal resolutions banning child labour in all forms and undertook to send all children to schools. They decided to ostracize anybody who employs a child for work.
800 back in schools
This included the 800 plus children brought back to schools and the nine mentally retarded children identified during the drive and admitted to an institution catering to them. The villagers not only wrote off almost ₹37 lakh, which were taken as loans keeping these children as guarantee and was due from their parents, but also provided books and dresses for these children to join the schools. About 1400 girls were studying in the 34 non-residential bridge schools of the project in the district in 2001.
Mr. Asok Kumar said the close monitoring and daily feedback by the team in the field helped in making course corrections and changing strategies suited to various situations arising in the field on a day-to-day basis.
These efforts culminated in making Veilpur a child labor free mandal—having ALL 5-15 year old children in schools, he said with a sense of satisfaction.
Even after 20 years, the mandal is child-labour free and there is 100 per cent retention in schools.
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