By Makhsudul Islam
It is to be maintained that non-implementation of the programme of universal primary education and not putting this social welfare programme first on the list of priorities has rendered the world vulnerable in all fields; and child labour can not be eliminated unless the child is sent to his or her rightful place – the school. Today, except parts of the West, the picture is grim all over. In Africa and Asia, for example, two thirds of the male children and more than three-fifths of female children are illiterate. It is the same in respect of school attendance for India. India is not only behind China, Sri Lanka and South Korea, but also behind ‘low-income countries’ (as defined by the World Bank) including sub-Saharan Africa.
It is against this background that one has to view the perpetual abuse of children, mostly from the deprived section of our population. Government planners, almost the entire middle class, and regrettably even some highly prestigious human rights and civil liberties organisations maintain that child labour will be abolished only when poverty is eliminated. This means that this evil will never be eradicated. Some activists depend solely on the good sense and kindness of importers of goods (specially carpets) manufactured by child labour – they hope to put an end to this menace by asking foreign importers not to buy carpets which involve labour of children. Yet, there are others who maintain that once the provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act have been rigorously implemented, we will have done our job.
We refuse to recognise the fact that countries like Japan and our own Great Britain approached their developmental and social welfare programmes in the nineteenth century by first introducing and successfully implementing only one social welfare programme – compulsory primary education. Historically, however, abolition of child labour was closely linked with the introduction of compulsory primary education. This was the experience of several countries. Children in all societies which have introduced compulsory education have combined schooling with work, but the priority has been education first and work later and not the other way round.
In many Asian and African countries universal primary education is not given the importance it deserves and instead, many governmental programmes offer palliatives like adult literacy programmes and the establishment of model schools catering largely to the rural elite, rather than tackle – “the need for a good basic education”. And, this is the only “policy solution”.
The likes of Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, and many other world leaders seem to spend a great deal of time spending money on the futile needs of Afghanistan and Iraq, without any disrespect to the countries, these expenses are of no significance. Each country is able to rebuild itself, what is necessary is for the countries to be given their own independence (American and British troops leaving) and help in re-structuring the country, Afghanistan aside, Iraq was not, is not and will not be a poor country.
Nevertheless, America is still spending billions of pounds to re-structure the country when it could have been made better use of by educating children and giving them a better life. Other than a much wanted regime change, the money is simply being washed out down the drain. But one may think that it is quite heartless to say that money on Afghanistan and Iraq is not necessary, this should not be confused. What is being opinionated is that the money or expense of going to war with Iraq and Afghanistan cost approximately since 2001 to date – £370bn. Does that now change your mind about the current governments? Do you now feel as though as an electorate, you are being cheated? – The answer is yes.
The governments are doing nothing more than filling their own pockets, they are status obsessed, financially hungry social elites that help nobody but themselves. So had that money been implemented to countries such as Sri Lanka, India or provinces of Africa – would that not help solve the current problems in the international world? – Surely it would. If half of the £370bn is deployed to few of the African or Asian countries to implement that into primary education, there would be greater increase in better lifestyles, better literacy rates, better healthcare and consequently better gross per head in the country, expanding its economy, helping the country come out of poverty. But have the world leaders or even the supposedly ‘un-biased’ UN done anything? – Again the answer is in the negative. So now you may say – So what are world leaders doing with our finances?
The answer to that question is, they are using it on tackling ‘global warming’ an issue not likely to affect us within our lifetime or another three generations nor is there concrete scientific evidence to prove it is occurring. But this to the current governments is an issue of greater significance than that of poverty or illiteracy, which is current and now. But the fact that children at the age of 7, are working in countries in Asia for a mere 20 pence a day is rather repulsive and lacks its place in modern society. It is openly being attacked that the world leaders and UN are doing nothing to stamp out the degrading disease of poverty and illiteracy in our world today.
There simply has to be greater force applied in ensuring that primary education is compulsory for every single child between the ages of 5-11 to able to earn for themselves and their family, if this is not implemented then the world should brace itself for an increase in child death and further false commitments by the Governments. There should be a compulsory tax on the upper class of every state to give up at the very least 2 per cent of their wealth per year to the cause of educating those children from the provinces of poverty. In an era where footballers earn around £100,000-£250,000 a week, there is no excuse for this measure not to be implemented.
UNESCO, an organising body of UN working to educate under-privileged children, nonetheless the activity of the organisation is rather lacking. UN should take full responsibility in ensuring that there are 100 per cent educated children in the under-privileged provinces and place sanctions to states that do not follow this essential encumber. But the UN are not a competent body in ensuring this, it is their sole responsibility that funds are available to fulfil their obligations of educating all children and implement measures so that states follow in increasing their level of literacy. States of this world should have a dedicated office responsible for liaison with the UN body for educating children; this is the problem that the world should steer to eradicate.
The likes of Blair and Bush in their reign could have spent that ‘war money’ on children struck by poverty in schooling, clothing, facilities of educational infra-structure, health and food. As far as the mortals of this world could see, this reign was lacklustre in helping the needy children of this world, Blair should not bear the brunt, the likes of European countries and many leading states of the world should have come forward to do much more. No doubt because of the war, UK entered into the current recession; this in consequence lead to the current decrease in funding available to be spent on Universities in the UK and the National Health Service.
As the famous Tony Blair once said in his manifesto reported by the BBC: “Education, education, education” although he acted on his promise, however, his opponents pointed out he wanted to say “war, war, war.” With that I leave your readership to make up your mind about our current governments.
Makhsudul Islam a student of law. Like what you read? – Why not have read of other articles by Makhsudul: This article is not for re-distribution, however if you want to add it to your website please use the authors full name when referencing. For full details please check: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Makhsudul Islam a student of law.
Like what you read? – Why not have read of other articles by Makhsudul:
This article is not for re-distribution, however if you want to add it to your website please use the authors full name when referencing. For full details please check: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx