The lockdown has affected everyone, and a survey shows that child labor among school children in West Bengal has increased by a whopping 105 percent.
The number of child laborers among girls in the state exceeded that among boys. While the number rose by 113 percent for girls, it was 94.7 percent for boys, according to the survey.
The survey was carried out jointly by the West Bengal Forum for the Right to Education (RTE Forum) and the Campaign against Child Labor (CACL) and published on Saturday.
A quick assessment of 2,154 children and their families in 19 counties across the state showed that child labor among school children ages 6-18 rose 105 percent during the lockdown period.
“Although the percentage of child labor among school children aged 6-10 has decreased, it has increased in both the 10-14 and 14-18 age groups,” the study found.
Around 42 child marriage cases were also reported during the lockdown.
During the embargo, which began on March 25, 2020, only 29 percent of children attending school (preschool through grade XII) were able to access online educational support.
The percentage who had access to online education was lowest among junior grade students. It is 21.5 percent among preschool and elementary school students. The highest in this regard was among the students of the higher grades. The number was 53.2 percent among upper secondary school students, the study says.
It was found that 54 percent of children using online resources to continue their education during the period used WhatsApp for class.
“Around 49.5 percent of the children surveyed have no way of accessing online educational facilities. And 33 percent of children have no access to smartphones or computers at home, ”it says.
Of the 2,154 children surveyed in the 19 districts of West Bengal, 173 were disabled, the report said.
“Around 37.5 percent of children with school disabilities have access to digital or online educational support,” says the survey.
Regarding the status of child protection in West Bengal, the report said that 57 percent of the children surveyed received meals three times a day, while 17 percent of them survived either one or two meals a day.
“Around 10 percent of children in the 2 to 6 age group will not receive any additional nutrition from the Anganwadi centers during the lockdown. And 40 percent of the students in grades I to VIII do not receive lunch from their schools, ”says the study.
It found that 11 percent of children who became ill during this embargo were unable to receive medical treatment.
Since the lockdown began in West Bengal, only 3.06 percent of the children included in the assessment had received their vaccination shots and medication.
“Only 8.8 percent of the families surveyed had access to all items to protect them from COVID 19 soap, disinfectants, gloves and masks,” the survey said.