Friday, June 17, 2011

Children in Nepal : Issues and Challenges


Children in Nepal : Issues and Challenges
Introduction
Child labor is one of the major issues in many parts of the world including Nepal. An estimate in 1996 showed that about 250 million children of ages between 5 to 14 years were working full-time of part-time. Most of these working children were in developing countries, over 50% of them in South Asia.
Nepal is one of the countries with very high proportion of child labor Force Survey in 1998/99 showed that about 2 million (14%) children out of the total population of 4.9 million of ages between 5 to 14 years were involved in work.
The Gravity of The Child Labor Problem
Awareness towards the gravity of child labor problem is a relatively new development in Nepal as in many other parts of the world. Though children’s health and education has remained a priority of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal for decades, it was only during the 1990s that the magnitude of the problem of child labor was realized. Since the early 1990s the issue of child rights and child labor has received greater attention which is being reflected in national policies and programs. Because of the social and economic circumstances of the country, child labor issue in Nepal is rather difficult and complex. Nepal is one of the least developed countries. About 90% of the population in Nepal lives in rural areas. About 81% of the total population depends of agriculture, mostly subsistence farming. About 42% Nepalese live under the absolute poverty, with income less than one dollar per day. Because most of the adults are illiterate (adult illiteracy rate about 50%), the capacity of most families to undertake alternatives to develop social and economic organize themselves to develop social and economic safety measures ate seriously constrained. Accordingly, HMG/N has adopted poverty reduction Strategy Paper and the Tenth Plan has emphasized poverty reduction as their overarching goal.
(HMG/N) considers educational development as one of the crucial strategy to remove the problem of poverty and child labor. Provision of basic and primary educational is essential for breaking the problem of poverty as well as eliminating child labor. Accordingly, HMG/N has committed itself to the provision of universal quality basic and primary education for all. It has also been engaged in the global campaign of Education for All. Since early 1990, HMG/N is implementing Basic and Primary Education Program which is currently at its second phase to universalize access and it improve the quality and relevance of basic and primary education in Nepal. Many INGOs and NGOs are also working towards solving the problems of poverty and child labor in Nepal. The issues of child labor in Nepal, however, remain ever big and challenging as the number and sectors of employment of children keep growing.
Social Dimension of Child Labor
Unlike in the case of developing countries like Nepal, Child labor is a thing of history in most of the industrialized and developed countries. The success relates it realization of the need it stop child labor and m=nurture childhood in a protective joyful and educational environment. Today, mostly of the developed countries have compulsory school education up to 16 to 18 years(grade 10 to 12), whereby the government guarantees free education up to that level and the parents are required by the law to send their children to school. However, in many underdeveloped countries this realization has yet to come not only among the poor rural families whose children are vulnerable to child labor but also among many privileged communities and families who employ children as laborers.
It is often taken for granted that children of poor need to work. ‘The riches of poor are their children” goes a Nepali proverb. On the one hand, the proverb reflects the future prospects with able people in the family; on the other hand it indicates that children need to bear with the parents in toiling work fro subsistence. For marginally poor families in Nepal there is simply no alternative, no hope, except to accepting the fate.
The social perspective that child labor is compulsive reality is rather of higher concern because it eludes social responsibly. Employment of children as household servants is a normal phenomenon, even a show of affluence by the employer because of such perceptions. The employers of children as laborer even argue that they are providing protection and helping poor children, and therefore, they feel good about it. They fail to realize that such immediate ‘favor’ results in destruction of childhood. In the absence of a feeling of social responsibility the task of protecting child laborers, proving them with educational environment and enabling them to live like children and grow with positive aspirations becomes all the challenging.
Nepalese society needs to look at the issue from humanitarian stance as well as from the perspectives of positive social transformation towards greater creativity and prosperity.
HIV/AIDS and Working Children
HIV/AIDS is gradually on the increase in the country affection the children associated with sex workers as well as people who visit them. Studies indicate that many low income workers such as those involved in transportation, those who are away from family seeking labor in the urban areas are more likely to visit sex workers. The children of these groups are more vulnerable to worst forms of child labor. The other causes of HIV/AIDS are drug abuse and abnormal sexual behavior which is also on the increase especially among the children and teenagers. Street children and working children away from their families are more vulnerable to such situation. Obviously, working children are more venerable to HIV/AIDS because of their exposure to the situational circumstances as well as because of the lack of awareness, care and support. There is still a need for detailed and critical studies in this area to generate analytical information and deeper understanding about the problems, issues and the overall actions needed.
However, there is also a need for immediate measures to prevent proliferation of the problems as well as to address the needs of those already affected.
Street Children
With increasing urbanization and urban-focused opportunities and facilities, the problem of street children is growing year by year. Children from rural villages and districts end up on city streets as a result of poverty, broken families. Physical and mental abuse in the family, abandonment, helplessness, and desire to live in the city. Street children face hunger, lack of health and education facilities, lack of opportunity for skills development, physical and sexual exploitation by elder and former street children, drug abuse, etc. It is also reported that as they grew up they face difficulties in making a livelihood and, consequently, became involved in immoral and illegal activities, contributing to social disorder.
Some NGOs address the issues of street children with transit homes, skills training, socialization centers, counseling, provision of food and education, family reunion, etc.
However, it is recognized that there needs to be preventive and controlling measures at the origins and destinations of these children with issuance of identity cards for rehabilitative services for those who have already arrived in urban centers.
Disabled Children
HMGN initiated special education with a program for blind children in Kathmandu. Now, special education programs for children with many types of disabilities are being launched. However, most children with disabilities are out of reach of such facilities, as these facilities are mainly urban based. HMGN has ratified most declarations related to children with disabilities and promotion of their rights and development. Since the early 1980s government agencies and various associations’ federations and NGOs have been working for children with disabilities mainly in education, skills training, community-based rehabilitation and against social stigma, discrimination and exclusion. Such NGOs are spread throughout the country raising a voice for the rights and development of children with disabilities.
A government survey on the ‘Situation of Disability in Nepal” reports that about two percent of children have disabilities; however other studies place the figure at between one percent and 15 percent. Only about 10 percent of children with disabilities have access to formal and non-formal education.
Children in Armed Conflict
Under the Royal Army Recruitment Rules (1962), no one aged less than 18 years is eligible to join the Army; however at present children as young as 15 years are able to enlist for military training. The Maoist insurgency that started in 1996 has to date claimed several thousand lives including 300 children and injured many others. It is reported that the Maoists recruit children and youths into their movement.
Detailed information on the number of children involved and their situation is however not available. Although the insurgency originated in Nepal’s western and mid-western regions and increasing number of districts ate affected by disruptions and insecurity. Development activities have been adversely affected and the situation for children is deterioration.
Sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking
Sexual abuse exploitation and trafficking are major issues of concern for child rights in Nepal. These practices continue unabated despite efforts by HMGN and civil society organizations. Studies show that sexual abuse and exploitation is found everywhere including at home in schools, communities and workplaces and even in public. Moreover, it is reported that children ate trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation. HMGN is trying to control sexual abuse; exploitation and trafficking in the commercial sector but is yet to address the non-commercial sector. District-level committees have been formed to address the issue of trafficking. NGOs are working on the protection, prevention and rescue of exploited and abused children (inside and outside the country) and their rehabilitation. Some activities to prevent trafficking of girls include community mobilization and peer counseling through child clubs and women’s groups.
Child Labor
The constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal (1991) forbids the employment of minors in a factory, mine or dangerous workplace. The Children’s Act prohibits the employment of children aged below 14 years in factories/industries. It also provides for protective and safety measures for children aged 14 and above. The act also requires employers to send photographs and details of all child laborers to the local DCWB.
The Nepal Labor Force Survey of 1998/99 found that over 40 percent of all children aged 5-14 years or 1.987 million children were economically active. More girls than boys work and the proportion of working children in rural areas is greater than in urban areas. Child labor exploitation has been a major problem in the promotion of the rights of children as a result of weak implementation of laws poverty, landlessness, lack of a monitoring mechanism and lack of a social security scheme. There is also a lack of administrative and legislative mechanisms to address the issues of child labor in the informal sector.
It is necessary to classify child laborers based on vulnerability and exploitation and prioritize program interventions to protect the rights of working children. Maoist activities against child; labor are to be targeted at the rural setting addressing the causes and consequences.
Legal Provisions
There ate a number of international and national legal instruments in place. However, in Nepal their implementation remains a difficult challenge in the face of limited institutional and human resources.
In the first place, the system that is responsible for the implementation has to be made rational committed and adequately sensitive to the issues. Second the society needs to be prepared for the transition to new social responsibility and for co-operation in the law enforcement. There must be a comprehensive approach to eliminate prejudices to enable all concerned to use legal provision and feel self-responsibility. A clear vision is necessary to prepare and mobilized all concerned in a collaborated and coordinated way for an effective enforcement of law.
Lack of social Contexts and Effective Alternative
The bottom line for effective elimination of the issue of child labor is the provision of at pragmatic and effective alternative to children and parents. Schools should be the place for all school age children. For this schools need to be accessible, affordable, directly benefit are relative to the current situation of the children and the parents and it goes beyond the physical entities and professional articulations.
For a marginally poor and disadvantaged family a school at its doorstep could still be socially inaccessible. Similar situation applies in the case of affordability and perception of benefit. For many parents, it is even difficult to meet the minimum requirements for daily subsistence. It is difficult to expect from such families to afford any cost, time or money for the schooling needs of their children. Further it is difficult to expect from such children to be effective and regular students. The future benefit for them from traditional education would be beyond their anticipation and grasp. A report of basic and primary education indicates that 30% of the total primary school age children are still outside the formal school system. Similarly the report of country assessment of EFA, 2000 show that the total enrolment at grade 1, about 40% repeats the class and about 23 % drop out. Although the repetition and drop out at higher grades are not as big as at grade one, the effectiveness and efficiency of school education remains very poor. Those who complete the primary education cycle ate about 50% only. The problem of non-enrolment and dropouts are acute among the poor and disadvantaged communities particularly girls and children with special needs.
Studies show that the current provisions of schooling do not address the educational needs of the disadvantaged parents and children vulnerable to child labor. Similarly, according to annual school based data of MOES (2000), of the total primer school age children 19.6% are never enrolled in school, 45.4% of the children enrolled in priory schools drip out without completing grade five. Dropout occurs mostly at grade one which stand at 14%.The magnitude of the problems of illiteracy non-enrolment and school drop-out varies by region be gender and by difference in social groups. Most disadvantaged family’s need it engages in physical work for long hours in the field or in the factories or as porters just to earn day-to-day living. Education for intellectual tact, skill and health are crucial for any improvement of the disadvantaged groups. However achieving educational provisions that address the needs and prepare a base for effective and sustainable economic development still remains a challenge.
Challenges of Child Labor: Complex Web of Causes
There are several reasons for children joining the workforce: social reasons, economic reasons, psychological reasons, inadequate policy and regulatory system, lack of comprehensive social and developmental infrastructure etc. Complex relationship exists among the various causes as many of these reasons ate interwoven to one another. Often one cause is an effect of another.
A generic causal-relations model is proposed here to understand the relationship of different causes. Mainly, sixteen generic causes are identified in this model. These are: geo-physical and political constraints ‘corrupted’ parents, discriminating behaviors to girls, bad family behavior and break0ups, work opportunities in urban areas, community apathetic attitude, inadequate commitments, instruments and supports, special physical characteristics needed to specific activities cost advantages to employers, non-pecuniary advantage to employers,’ help to community’ rather than ‘trading-a-child’ attitude of the society, majority agrarian an small scale handicraft economy lack of quality and employment opportunities, high fertility rates and large family sizes and unavailability of schooling.
The consequences and social costs of child labor on the affected children are very high. It impairs their physical, mental and moral health at a very crucial and critical stage of life that leaves permanent consequences. Even more destructive to quality of life in long-term is permanent damage caused to the social development of the child.
Refugee Children
There are more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of ethnic Nepali origin who have been living in UNHCR-administered camps in east Nepal for the past 10 years. While repatriation talks continue refugees are provided with food, education, health and other services by HMG, UN bodies and a number of NGOs and INGOs (including SC UK, World Lutheran service and OXfam)
Conflict and Child Labor
The conflict situation in Nepal is increasingly affecting the economic and social arenas. The situation is causing adverse conditions in the affected areas. Schools are highly affected by this condition; Schools in rural areas are not being run effectively. Because of the conflict situation many parents are not sending their children to school and many school teachers in rural areas have moved out. Similarly the local bodies including the VDCs, health posts and local development offices are displaced without any economic support and they are displaced without any economic support and they including the children are forced to seek economic engagement for survival.
Secondly dysfunctional schooling means more children without having to engage in recognized future oriented or hope generating activity in school. So children are amore vulnerable to falling on the worst forms of child labor. And thirdly sometimes children are reported to be drawn into the conflict through forced recruitment in the rural areas. This is contributing to worsening of the situation regarding child labor particularly the worst forms of child labor.
The last situation, involvement of children in conflict situation is new development in the country and is of big concern. There is definitely a need for building consensus and commitment to prevent children falling into the conflict situation in general and direct involvement in the conflict in particular. A stronger campaign by all stakeholders, particularly by the civil society is called for to make schools zone of peace. It also necessitates a more comprehensive and integrated intervention package for the children and families affected or displaced by conflict.
Economic Dimension of Child Labor: The Demand Side of the Issue
The child labor issue has always been studied only from the supply side. The studies often point out poverty, high population expansion, illiteracy, biased social values, repressive culture and so on as the main causes behind the child labor issue. All these supply side factors indicate the need for improvement in socioeconomic conditions and support for the poor and disadvantaged through a more inclusive policy and institutional framework.
There are a number of factors in the demand side as well bearing on child labor. There are monetary as well as non-monetary incentives for the demand of child labor. Children are easier to manage as they are submissive, innocent, less demanding. Trustworthy, less inclined to absenteeism and less aware of their rights. Child labor is therefore cheap and easy to manage.
The tradition of transferring workmanship to new generation is another non-pecuniary factor from the demand side that cannot be neglected. Parents feel that their children will be benefited if the children follow their traditional family occupation. Some jobs demand children due to their childlike physical, behavioral and psychological characteristics-non-threatening, charming, amicable and submissive. Children are preferred as domestic workers, sex workers, drug peddlers etc.
Accordingly demand side appears equally responsible, if not more for the current problems of child labor in Nepal. There is a need for combining awareness creation with sensitization and punitive action in a well-concerted way to cope with the demand situation. (National Plan of Action for Children)
Children in Nepal : Issues and Challenges Introduction Child labor is one of the major issues in many parts of the world including Nepal. An estimate in 1996 showed that about 250 million children of ages between 5 to 14 years were working full-time of part-time. Most of these working children were in developing countries, over 50% of them in South Asia. Nepal is one of the countries with very high proportion of child labor Force Survey in 1998/99 showed that about 2 million (14%) children out of the total population of 4.9 million of ages between 5 to 14 years were involved in work. The Gravity of The Child Labor ProblemAwareness towards the gravity of child labor problem is a relatively new development in Nepal as in many other parts of the world. Though children’s health and education has remained a priority of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal for decades, it was only during the 1990s that the magnitude of the problem of child labor was realized. Since the early 1990s the issue of child rights and child labor has received greater attention which is being reflected in national policies and programs. Because of the social and economic circumstances of the country, child labor issue in Nepal is rather difficult and complex. Nepal is one of the least developed countries. About 90% of the population in Nepal lives in rural areas. About 81% of the total population depends of agriculture, mostly subsistence farming. About 42% Nepalese live under the absolute poverty, with income less than one dollar per day. Because most of the adults are illiterate (adult illiteracy rate about 50%), the capacity of most families to undertake alternatives to develop social and economic organize themselves to develop social and economic safety measures ate seriously constrained. Accordingly, HMG/N has adopted poverty reduction Strategy Paper and the Tenth Plan has emphasized poverty reduction as their overarching goal. (HMG/N) considers educational development as one of the crucial strategy to remove the problem of poverty and child labor. Provision of basic and primary educational is essential for breaking the problem of poverty as well as eliminating child labor. Accordingly, HMG/N has committed itself to the provision of universal quality basic and primary education for all. It has also been engaged in the global campaign of Education for All. Since early 1990, HMG/N is implementing Basic and Primary Education Program which is currently at its second phase to universalize access and it improve the quality and relevance of basic and primary education in Nepal. Many INGOs and NGOs are also working towards solving the problems of poverty and child labor in Nepal. The issues of child labor in Nepal, however, remain ever big and challenging as the number and sectors of employment of children keep growing. Social Dimension of Child Labor Unlike in the case of developing countries like Nepal, Child labor is a thing of history in most of the industrialized and developed countries. The success relates it realization of the need it stop child labor and m=nurture childhood in a protective joyful and educational environment. Today, mostly of the developed countries have compulsory school education up to 16 to 18 years(grade 10 to 12), whereby the government guarantees free education up to that level and the parents are required by the law to send their children to school. However, in many underdeveloped countries this realization has yet to come not only among the poor rural families whose children are vulnerable to child labor but also among many privileged communities and families who employ children as laborers. It is often taken for granted that children of poor need to work. ‘The riches of poor are their children” goes a Nepali proverb. On the one hand, the proverb reflects the future prospects with able people in the family; on the other hand it indicates that children need to bear with the parents in toiling work fro subsistence. For marginally poor families in Nepal there is simply no alternative, no hope, except to accepting the fate. The social perspective that child labor is compulsive reality is rather of higher concern because it eludes social responsibly. Employment of children as household servants is a normal phenomenon, even a show of affluence by the employer because of such perceptions. The employers of children as laborer even argue that they are providing protection and helping poor children, and therefore, they feel good about it. They fail to realize that such immediate ‘favor’ results in destruction of childhood. In the absence of a feeling of social responsibility the task of protecting child laborers, proving them with educational environment and enabling them to live like children and grow with positive aspirations becomes all the challenging. Nepalese society needs to look at the issue from humanitarian stance as well as from the perspectives of positive social transformation towards greater creativity and prosperity. HIV/AIDS and Working Children HIV/AIDS is gradually on the increase in the country affection the children associated with sex workers as well as people who visit them. Studies indicate that many low income workers such as those involved in transportation, those who are away from family seeking labor in the urban areas are more likely to visit sex workers. The children of these groups are more vulnerable to worst forms of child labor. The other causes of HIV/AIDS are drug abuse and abnormal sexual behavior which is also on the increase especially among the children and teenagers. Street children and working children away from their families are more vulnerable to such situation. Obviously, working children are more venerable to HIV/AIDS because of their exposure to the situational circumstances as well as because of the lack of awareness, care and support. There is still a need for detailed and critical studies in this area to generate analytical information and deeper understanding about the problems, issues and the overall actions needed. However, there is also a need for immediate measures to prevent proliferation of the problems as well as to address the needs of those already affected. Street ChildrenWith increasing urbanization and urban-focused opportunities and facilities, the problem of street children is growing year by year. Children from rural villages and districts end up on city streets as a result of poverty, broken families. Physical and mental abuse in the family, abandonment, helplessness, and desire to live in the city. Street children face hunger, lack of health and education facilities, lack of opportunity for skills development, physical and sexual exploitation by elder and former street children, drug abuse, etc. It is also reported that as they grew up they face difficulties in making a livelihood and, consequently, became involved in immoral and illegal activities, contributing to social disorder. Some NGOs address the issues of street children with transit homes, skills training, socialization centers, counseling, provision of food and education, family reunion, etc. However, it is recognized that there needs to be preventive and controlling measures at the origins and destinations of these children with issuance of identity cards for rehabilitative services for those who have already arrived in urban centers. Disabled Children HMGN initiated special education with a program for blind children in Kathmandu. Now, special education programs for children with many types of disabilities are being launched. However, most children with disabilities are out of reach of such facilities, as these facilities are mainly urban based. HMGN has ratified most declarations related to children with disabilities and promotion of their rights and development. Since the early 1980s government agencies and various associations’ federations and NGOs have been working for children with disabilities mainly in education, skills training, community-based rehabilitation and against social stigma, discrimination and exclusion. Such NGOs are spread throughout the country raising a voice for the rights and development of children with disabilities. A government survey on the ‘Situation of Disability in Nepal” reports that about two percent of children have disabilities; however other studies place the figure at between one percent and 15 percent. Only about 10 percent of children with disabilities have access to formal and non-formal education. Children in Armed Conflict Under the Royal Army Recruitment Rules (1962), no one aged less than 18 years is eligible to join the Army; however at present children as young as 15 years are able to enlist for military training. The Maoist insurgency that started in 1996 has to date claimed several thousand lives including 300 children and injured many others. It is reported that the Maoists recruit children and youths into their movement. Detailed information on the number of children involved and their situation is however not available. Although the insurgency originated in Nepal’s western and mid-western regions and increasing number of districts ate affected by disruptions and insecurity. Development activities have been adversely affected and the situation for children is deterioration.Sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking Sexual abuse exploitation and trafficking are major issues of concern for child rights in Nepal. These practices continue unabated despite efforts by HMGN and civil society organizations. Studies show that sexual abuse and exploitation is found everywhere including at home in schools, communities and workplaces and even in public. Moreover, it is reported that children ate trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation. HMGN is trying to control sexual abuse; exploitation and trafficking in the commercial sector but is yet to address the non-commercial sector. District-level committees have been formed to address the issue of trafficking. NGOs are working on the protection, prevention and rescue of exploited and abused children (inside and outside the country) and their rehabilitation. Some activities to prevent trafficking of girls include community mobilization and peer counseling through child clubs and women’s groups. Child Labor The constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal (1991) forbids the employment of minors in a factory, mine or dangerous workplace. The Children’s Act prohibits the employment of children aged below 14 years in factories/industries. It also provides for protective and safety measures for children aged 14 and above. The act also requires employers to send photographs and details of all child laborers to the local DCWB. The Nepal Labor Force Survey of 1998/99 found that over 40 percent of all children aged 5-14 years or 1.987 million children were economically active. More girls than boys work and the proportion of working children in rural areas is greater than in urban areas. Child labor exploitation has been a major problem in the promotion of the rights of children as a result of weak implementation of laws poverty, landlessness, lack of a monitoring mechanism and lack of a social security scheme. There is also a lack of administrative and legislative mechanisms to address the issues of child labor in the informal sector. It is necessary to classify child laborers based on vulnerability and exploitation and prioritize program interventions to protect the rights of working children. Maoist activities against child; labor are to be targeted at the rural setting addressing the causes and consequences.Legal Provisions There ate a number of international and national legal instruments in place. However, in Nepal their implementation remains a difficult challenge in the face of limited institutional and human resources. In the first place, the system that is responsible for the implementation has to be made rational committed and adequately sensitive to the issues. Second the society needs to be prepared for the transition to new social responsibility and for co-operation in the law enforcement. There must be a comprehensive approach to eliminate prejudices to enable all concerned to use legal provision and feel self-responsibility. A clear vision is necessary to prepare and mobilized all concerned in a collaborated and coordinated way for an effective enforcement of law.Lack of social Contexts and Effective Alternative The bottom line for effective elimination of the issue of child labor is the provision of at pragmatic and effective alternative to children and parents. Schools should be the place for all school age children. For this schools need to be accessible, affordable, directly benefit are relative to the current situation of the children and the parents and it goes beyond the physical entities and professional articulations. For a marginally poor and disadvantaged family a school at its doorstep could still be socially inaccessible. Similar situation applies in the case of affordability and perception of benefit. For many parents, it is even difficult to meet the minimum requirements for daily subsistence. It is difficult to expect from such families to afford any cost, time or money for the schooling needs of their children. Further it is difficult to expect from such children to be effective and regular students. The future benefit for them from traditional education would be beyond their anticipation and grasp. A report of basic and primary education indicates that 30% of the total primary school age children are still outside the formal school system. Similarly the report of country assessment of EFA, 2000 show that the total enrolment at grade 1, about 40% repeats the class and about 23 % drop out. Although the repetition and drop out at higher grades are not as big as at grade one, the effectiveness and efficiency of school education remains very poor. Those who complete the primary education cycle ate about 50% only. The problem of non-enrolment and dropouts are acute among the poor and disadvantaged communities particularly girls and children with special needs.Studies show that the current provisions of schooling do not address the educational needs of the disadvantaged parents and children vulnerable to child labor. Similarly, according to annual school based data of MOES (2000), of the total primer school age children 19.6% are never enrolled in school, 45.4% of the children enrolled in priory schools drip out without completing grade five. Dropout occurs mostly at grade one which stand at 14%.The magnitude of the problems of illiteracy non-enrolment and school drop-out varies by region be gender and by difference in social groups. Most disadvantaged family’s need it engages in physical work for long hours in the field or in the factories or as porters just to earn day-to-day living. Education for intellectual tact, skill and health are crucial for any improvement of the disadvantaged groups. However achieving educational provisions that address the needs and prepare a base for effective and sustainable economic development still remains a challenge.Challenges of Child Labor: Complex Web of CausesThere are several reasons for children joining the workforce: social reasons, economic reasons, psychological reasons, inadequate policy and regulatory system, lack of comprehensive social and developmental infrastructure etc. Complex relationship exists among the various causes as many of these reasons ate interwoven to one another. Often one cause is an effect of another.A generic causal-relations model is proposed here to understand the relationship of different causes. Mainly, sixteen generic causes are identified in this model. These are: geo-physical and political constraints ‘corrupted’ parents, discriminating behaviors to girls, bad family behavior and break0ups, work opportunities in urban areas, community apathetic attitude, inadequate commitments, instruments and supports, special physical characteristics needed to specific activities cost advantages to employers, non-pecuniary advantage to employers,’ help to community’ rather than ‘trading-a-child’ attitude of the society, majority agrarian an small scale handicraft economy lack of quality and employment opportunities, high fertility rates and large family sizes and unavailability of schooling.The consequences and social costs of child labor on the affected children are very high. It impairs their physical, mental and moral health at a very crucial and critical stage of life that leaves permanent consequences. Even more destructive to quality of life in long-term is permanent damage caused to the social development of the child.Refugee Children There are more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of ethnic Nepali origin who have been living in UNHCR-administered camps in east Nepal for the past 10 years. While repatriation talks continue refugees are provided with food, education, health and other services by HMG, UN bodies and a number of NGOs and INGOs (including SC UK, World Lutheran service and OXfam)Conflict and Child LaborThe conflict situation in Nepal is increasingly affecting the economic and social arenas. The situation is causing adverse conditions in the affected areas. Schools are highly affected by this condition; Schools in rural areas are not being run effectively. Because of the conflict situation many parents are not sending their children to school and many school teachers in rural areas have moved out. Similarly the local bodies including the VDCs, health posts and local development offices are displaced without any economic support and they are displaced without any economic support and they including the children are forced to seek economic engagement for survival. Secondly dysfunctional schooling means more children without having to engage in recognized future oriented or hope generating activity in school. So children are amore vulnerable to falling on the worst forms of child labor. And thirdly sometimes children are reported to be drawn into the conflict through forced recruitment in the rural areas. This is contributing to worsening of the situation regarding child labor particularly the worst forms of child labor.The last situation, involvement of children in conflict situation is new development in the country and is of big concern. There is definitely a need for building consensus and commitment to prevent children falling into the conflict situation in general and direct involvement in the conflict in particular. A stronger campaign by all stakeholders, particularly by the civil society is called for to make schools zone of peace. It also necessitates a more comprehensive and integrated intervention package for the children and families affected or displaced by conflict.Economic Dimension of Child Labor: The Demand Side of the IssueThe child labor issue has always been studied only from the supply side. The studies often point out poverty, high population expansion, illiteracy, biased social values, repressive culture and so on as the main causes behind the child labor issue. All these supply side factors indicate the need for improvement in socioeconomic conditions and support for the poor and disadvantaged through a more inclusive policy and institutional framework.There are a number of factors in the demand side as well bearing on child labor. There are monetary as well as non-monetary incentives for the demand of child labor. Children are easier to manage as they are submissive, innocent, less demanding. Trustworthy, less inclined to absenteeism and less aware of their rights. Child labor is therefore cheap and easy to manage.The tradition of transferring workmanship to new generation is another non-pecuniary factor from the demand side that cannot be neglected. Parents feel that their children will be benefited if the children follow their traditional family occupation. Some jobs demand children due to their childlike physical, behavioral and psychological characteristics-non-threatening, charming, amicable and submissive. Children are preferred as domestic workers, sex workers, drug peddlers etc.Accordingly demand side appears equally responsible, if not more for the current problems of child labor in Nepal. There is a need for combining awareness creation with sensitization and punitive action in a well-concerted way to cope with the demand situation. (National Plan of Action for Children)

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