Today SRISTI explores in a workshop with experts technological ideas and innovations for the elimination of child labour. In this initiative that is carried out in cooperation with ILO, we are trying three alternative approaches:
a. Eliminate the demand of child labour by substituting the task in which children are engaged by mechanical or other technological processes. It is understood that eliminating one task does not mean children will not be forced to work in other more vulnerable tasks. Technological change will have to be accompanied by institutional changes so that children have better choices.
b. Eliminate the supply of child labour by increasing the productivity and thus income of the parents who send their children for work. It is hoped that the children would be sent to school once the incomes increase. However, much depends upon the historical debts and the extent of deferred consumption which may take a toll on the newly realised income of parents. In general when demand for highly skilled labour increases, the parents tend to invest more in their children education hoping that the children will reap the advantage of such a trend in the economy.
c. Reduce the hazards in the tasks in which labour is employed so that in the event of any adverse contingency, the children of the affected adult labour do not have to be withdrawn from school for labour. Hazardous industries affect the health of adults as well as children. The involvement of labour without adequate safety standards is illegal and thus must not be allowed. But reducing hazards in tasks which are legal, such as line men working on electrical poles, does reduce the probability of adverse contingencies that might cost children their childhood.
We are aware that technology alone will not solve this problem of child labour but in this workshop we are looking at only technological alternatives. In a later stage, the synergy with other socio-economic measures will be explored as well.
To learn more about SRISTI’s project and the call for innovative ideas and technologies, read here.