Any program to deal with child labour and education has to be built around positive aspects. It has to recognise that parents, even poor parents, are motivated strongly towards providing a better future for their children through education. It has also to recognise that these parents are not only willing but also capable of making the necessary sacrifices to ensure that their child does not go to work but to school instead. It should reject all arguments in favour of a child working however ‘logical’ they may sound.
In particular it should strongly reject the poverty argument and its implications. It should recognise that since any form of work deprives the child of his/ her right to childhood, any attempt to categorise work done by a child is a purely academic exercise of no particular consequence to the child. As such it should recognise that any child out of school is a child labourer. Consequently it should take cognisance of the fact that withdrawal of a child from work and enrolment into formal day school as a full time student is two aspects of the same problem and cannot be dealt with separately. Once these aspects are internalised the basic components of the program emerge.
The essence of any program to eliminate child labour is, first of all, to create a norm within the community that no child should work and that all children should be in formal schools. The strength for creating this norm comes from the belief that this is what the community itself wants. This is why it is so important to harness the positive aspects of the situation. Once the norm is accepted then the program has to develop in a manner that covers all children out of school viz. child labour, in the area. In fact the acceptance of the norm itself ensures that the community plans for all the children. Specific strategies have to be adopted for children in different age groups and every single child in the area has to be planned for.
It is quite possible that all do not respond immediately but the program itself should not be found wanting to meet such a response as and when it occurs. The formation of the plan automatically results in the school becoming the focus of all further attention, which in turn strengthens the role of the school itself. Sensitising teachers, various community leaders, employers and other affected persons to all aspects concerning child labour needs to be fully incorporated into the program as an independent component. Above all the program should invariably involve the youth; in particular the non-student first generation educated youth, as the prime movers of the program.