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India: Children

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the level of child labour in India. (205685)

According to available data (the government of India National Sample Survey 2004-05) there are 70 million child labourers in India or a quarter of all child labourers in the world. A large proportion of India's child labourers are Dalit (formerly “untouchables”) and Adivasi (tribal) children. The majority of working children live in rural areas, with over 80 per cent. of them employed in agricultural and non-formal sectors and many in bonded labour.

The Department for International Development (DFID) supports the government of India and other partners to protect children in India. For example, DFID India supports the government's flagship programme for universal elementary education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Studies of child migrant labourers have found that discouragement at school was one of the factors that pushed children into work. Increasing enrolment, retention and reducing drop out rates are central to the SSA programme, which has also pioneered “bridge schools” designed to bring working children back into mainstream education. DFID India's strategic partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is contributing directly to the elimination of child labour in Andhra Pradesh. The project has been successful in helping government of Andhra Pradesh to reduce the number of child labourers in the state from 1.3 million to 0.2 million by 2007. Working with government, civil society, employers and trade unions an innovative model for reducing child labour in urban areas has been developed and is now being promoted nationally by the ILO.