Jun 9 2011

The importance of education in avoiding child labor

Child labor continues in India despite the Child Labor Act of 1986, which prohibited children younger than 14 from working in hazardous occupations and conditions. Sara Asmussen, CFCA project specialist for India and Kenya, explains more about how CFCA’s work in the field emphasizes education as a means to avoid this practice.

A child working in house construction in India

A child works in house construction in India. Read the CFCA story about how sponsorship helps families avoid child labor.

How is CFCA working to end child labor for sponsored and non-sponsored members and their families?

By supporting and promoting education.

Often families are unable to send their children to school because they cannot afford educational costs or need the children’s additional income to help support the household.

CFCA helps by giving families access to funds to pay for their children’s educational expenses.

Mothers also can participate in our livelihood programs, which increase the family’s income so that children are not needed to work to support the family.

This additional income may allow them to send other children or relatives to school (besides the sponsored children).

Many projects organize tutoring for students so they can receive extra help for their government exams (which take place in 10th and 12th grades). These often determine whether a child is able to pursue further education and where.

CFCA staffers in the field often conduct special seminars for students to emphasize education’s importance and help prepare them for their chosen career.

In addition, mothers groups check to make sure that all of the children from the group are in school and doing well. This creates mutual accountability and support for families to ensure that no child or family falls through the cracks.

The families are a great encouragement to one another!

Do social workers receive special training on how to approach families about the importance of education?

Yes. Many local staff members are drawn to CFCA because they are passionate about the education of children living in poverty.

Staffers train to counsel families regarding educational decisions and often organize special tutoring programs for the children.

When some children (or parents) refuse education opportunities, even though they understand the importance and what aid CFCA can offer, what do you tell the social workers?

Social workers do everything they can to encourage children to stay in school, so they are often very disappointed when a child or a family chooses not to continue in education.

One of the CFCA program’s greatest gifts, however, is that participants are empowered to make decisions for their own families, and families are free to discontinue if they wish.

Fortunately, the staff and mothers groups frequently continue to be involved in the lives of these families and support them.

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