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Ludhiana: Financial constraints of family due to pandemic driving schoolchildren to work

The Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in a potential income loss to families forcing children to help them earn a livelihood.
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | By Deepa Sharma Sood, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON NOV 01, 2020 10:13 PM IST

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many children studying in government schools into child labour. Many children of Classes 9 to 12 have refused to attend school and decided to continue with online classes post lockdown to support their families.

The Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in a potential income loss to families forcing children to help them earn a livelihood. Consequently, children engaged in work do not wish to return back to schools even after many of them have reopened on October 19.

In the last four months, children aged between 14 years to 18 years have started working and earning Rs 3,500 to Rs 6,000 per month.

Principals of government schools have stated that children have been working in factories, shops, selling vegetables and earning money to support their families. Parental unemployment due to economic shocks has led children to step in to provide support, they said. Teachers have also confirmed that very few students attend online classes as a majority of them are engaged in work.

Many school-going children were found working at shops in Ghumar Mandi, Chaura Bazaar, Model Town.

Sunil Kumar, 15, has been working in a factory since June to earn a livelihood. When his school reopened on October 19, Sunil decided to continue work in order to survive. He said, “My parents were working as labourers in a factory and both lost their jobs during the lockdown. I was forced to sell vegetables for two months in order to survive. I am unable to attend classes on a daily basis as I have to go to work.”

While 17-year-old student, Inderjot Singh, a student of Government Senior Secondary School, Multipurpose, was forced to work at a chemist shop for the last four months due to financial constraints. Being a non-medical student, it is tough for him to manage both studies and work. Singh said, “To support my family, I started working for nine hours a day, so to cope up with the syllabus take help from my friends as I am unable to attend online classes during the day.”

Government Senior Secondary School, Multipurpose, has 2,949 students studying in Classes 9 to 12 and only 80 are attending school. As per sources, many students are working in Chaura Bazaar and have not been able to attend the classes physically and online. Principal, Navdeep Romana, said, “Teachers are making sure that students are attending online classes. Few teachers are taking classes after 8 pm so that children do not miss classes.”

Government Senior Secondary School, Dhandari Khurd, has 540 students studying in Classes 9 to 12 of which 68 are attending the school. Principal Ujjalveer Singh, said, “Many students prefer attending online classes as they are working during the day due to financial constraints.”

Requesting anonymity, a teacher at a government school said, “Of the total 68 students, 14 are attending online classes and four are coming to school regularly. The remaining students are not regular with online classes as over 15 of them are working to support their families.”

District education officer, secondary, Swaranjit Kaur, said, “I am aware that many students are engaged in work and do not attend online classes. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, children and their families are facing a tough time due to which many of them are forced to work and are not attending school.”

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