Govt aim of eradicating child labour may fall short

There are serious doubts among concerned people that the government’s commitment to get rid of child labour and to impose compulsory education by 2005 will ever be fulfilled. “On the face of the fact that thousands of children are involved in different sectors, nothing is being done by concerned officials on their behalf,” says Sharad Sharma of Bal Bikas Samaj.Child rights activists claim that over a thousand children are working as hotel boys thus being prevented from primary education. “Ironically, these boys and girls are also working in educational institutes,” said Sharma who added that canteen owners of both government and private colleges are using children for commercial works, therefore barring them from school. “These canteen owners must be forced to send these labourers to school and legal actions should be taken against them if they do not comply with regulations.”Another child activist at CWIN said that the so-called target of making all children attend school by 2005 is not expected to be met. Government officials, even after making plans and commitments, which never see the light of the day, are simply ignoring the existing problems. “We are ready to provide such children with education for free, but the government should first encourage businesses not to employ children.”Sharad Sharma also recalls the incident when child rights activists campaigned for people not to buy carpets made by child labour. The campaign was a success as buyers helped by complying with the demands. He said that the country not only started to produce child labour free carpets, but many children were rescued from the factories and subsequently given the opportunity to study in rehabilitation centres. “The same kind of campaign is needed for children working in hotels, restaurants and canteens.”Is it not an example of the insensitivity of higher-level students who allow children to serve them teas and snacks? In response, Yadav Pandit of Nepal Students Union (NSU) said that his organisation was seriously against the rampant use of child labour in the educational sector. “Since New Year’s Day we have asked all students affiliated with NSU to boycott those canteens using child labour,” he said.Rights activists also claim that government bodies themselves have lost interest in social issues as their priorities have been shifted since the imposition of the emergency. “We could accomplish a lot if government officials were to have a supporting mindset,” they say.