View on Child Labour
The Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation, also known as MV Foundation, is a community-based organization based in the Ranga Reddy District of Andhra Pradesh. Its primary purpose is to solve the twin problems of illiteracy and child labour. The founding principle of MVF is simple:
“Every child between the ages of 5 – 14 must be educated in a full-time formal school. No child must be left behind to join the workforce.”
By recognizing that child labour and illiteracy go hand-in-hand, MVF works towards abolishing child labour by providing access to education. To provide greater clarity on the matter, MVF has created a Charter of Non-Negotiables. It enshrines the principles that the Foundation will not compromise on.
1. Full-Time School: All children must attend a formal, full-time school. Night schools and informal education centres are not acceptable.
2. Definition of Child Labourer: All children who are not enrolled in school are termed as “child labourers”. This definition encompasses all children who are out of school, regardless of their terms, nature or status of employment.
3. All Work is Hazardous: All kinds of employment are considered hazardous and detrimental to the child, regardless of the terms or nature of employment.
4. Abolition of Child Labour: MVF’s aim is total and complete abolition of child labour. Any laws that seek to regulate child labour are unacceptable.
5. Child Labour Cannot Be Justified: Attempts to justify child labour will be viewed as “anti-children” and detrimental to their growth. This is inclusive of arguments about the “harsh reality” of the family, poverty, the necessity of children’s earnings for the family, lack of interest among parents, poor quality of teachers and schools etc.
The success of MVF lies in its approach and forward-thinking course of action.
1. Area Based Approach: MVF follows an “area-based approach” as opposed to a “target-based approach”. Essentially, it tackles violations of the Rights of all children in the 5 – 14 age group in its area of operation. It puts pressure on the Government to deliver services in the area while simultaneously preparing public institutions to take charge of children and their education.
2. Bridging the Divide: MVF has identified the discrimination and the bias shown by various sections of society with regards to educating girl children. It works to bridge the gender divide, abolish child marriages and increase enrolment of girls in schools.
3. Ensuring Continuity: Getting a child enrolled in school is not the end of the problem; it is important to ensure that they do not drop out. MVF has taken precautionary measures through community action to ensure that children do not immediately get taken out of schools to rejoin the workforce.