The lockdown has impacted one and all and a survey has found that child labour among school going children has increased by a sizeable 105 percent during it West Bengal.
The number of child labourers among girls in the state exceeded those among the boys. While among the girls the number increased by 113 per cent, among the boys the increase was 94.7 per cent, said the survey.
The survey was jointly conducted by the West Bengal Right to Education Forum (RTE Forum) and Campaign against Child Labour(CACL) and published on Saturday.
As per the rapid assessment conducted among 2154 children and their families across 19 districts of the state, the number of child labour among the school going children belonging to the 6-18 years age group has gone up by 105 per cent during the lockdown period.
“Though the percentage of child labour among school going children has decreased for those in the 6-10 years age group, it has increased both in 10-14 years and 14-18 years age groups,” the study revealed.
Also reported during the lockdown were about 42 incidents of child marriages.
During the lockdown period, which started on March 25, 2020, only 29 per cent of the children who were attending schools (pre-primary to Class XII) could access online education support.
The percentage having access to online education was found to be the lowest among the students from the junior classes. It is 21.5 per cent among the students of pre-primary and primary level. The highest in this respect was from among the students of senior classes. The figure was 53.2 per cent among students belonging to the higher secondary level, the study said.
It was found that 54 per cent children using online means to continue their education during the period used WhatsApp to attend classes.
“Around 49.5 per cent of the children surveyed do not have any option to access online education facilities. And 33 per cent of the children do not have access to smartphones or computers at home,” it said.
Out of the 2154 children surveyed in the 19 districts of West Bengal, 173 were disabled, the report stated.
“Around 37.5 per cent of school going disabled children are accessing digital or online education support,” the survey said.
On the status of child protection in West Bengal, the report said 57 per cent of children surveyed were found to have got meals thrice a day while 17 per cent of them were surviving on either one or two meals daily.
“Around 10 per cent of the children belonging to the age group of 2-6 years old are not receiving supplementary nutrition from the Anganwadi centers during the lockdown. And 40 per cent of school students from classes I to VIII are not receiving mid-day meals from their schools,” the study said.
It has been found that 11 per cent of the children who fell sick during this lockdown period could not access any medical treatment.
Since the beginning of the lockdown in West Bengal only 3.06 per cent of the children covered in the assessment had received their immunisation shots and medicine.
“Only 8.8 per cent of the families surveyed had access to all items to protect them from COVID 19 soap, sanitizer, gloves and masks,” the survey said.
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