Sunday 4 November 2007

Children speak out: Good work - bad work

In 1999 Concerned for Working Children (CWC) in India published working children's views on what they consider to be work they can do and work they cannot do, considering the abilities and age of children. The publication is only in hard copy as far as I know and can be obtained from CWC (see below).

A little later World Vision published Good work, bad work, tough choices, which also documents children's views - from India, Thailand and the Philippines - on what they consider work that they can and can not do:

The main thrust of this research project is to highlight the need to listen to children in order to develop effective solutions to the problem of child labour. Children in this project, who live in India,Thailand and the Philippines, told us that they want to work, that they play an active role in choosing the kind of work they do, and that their goal is to support their family. Whether they live at home in the country or on the street in large cities, children say that they hope for good jobs, fear bad jobs, and struggle with difficult choices. They have strong, clear ideas about what kinds of work children should and should not be doing, and they deserve to be heard. (p.7)

An extract from the CWC publication:


1. Cleaning and washing rice
2. Cutting vegetables

We can do this work
We are children of age 9-18

We have the information to clean and wash rice and cut vegetables, besides we have the capacity to understand the process.

For those of us who go to school it is okay if we spend half an hour helping with the cooking in our own houses. But we should not stay at home and be engaged in this work for the whole day

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-9

We are too young to do any of these chores; we do not have any experience. Our hands are weak. Knives used to cut vegetables can hurt our hands.

3. lightning the ‘choolah’ (oven)
4. cooking (getting food cooked)
5. grinding masala (spices)

We can do this work
We are children of age 15-18

We are well aware of the danger of working with fire. We have the physical ability and skill to do these activities.

If we do this work in our own houses for about 2 hours daily, then it is not harmful.

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-15

We lack the ability to do these jobs. Working near the stove/choolah can cause us burn injuries. Smoke from the choolah can cause respiratory problems, headache, burning sensation in the eyes, etc.

While getting rice cooked, the starch has to be separated from the rice. This is very risky and it may cause us burn injuries.

We do not have arms strong enough to grind masala; moreover it can hurt our fingers.

If children with mental or physical disability are engaged in these activities, it is harmful to them, whatever be their age.

Watering the plants

We can do this work
We are children of age 3-9

Our hands are strong enough to water the plants in front of the house for half an hour aday with a jug if the water is already available there.

We are children of age 9-12
If we are school going we can water the plants in front of our house for half an hour a day by bringing the wter from a distance of ½ furlong.

We are children of age 12-18
We have the required physical strength, strong hands and legs to do this work. We can draw water form the well and water our own paddy field and garden for 2 hours a day within a distance of 1km from the house. This is not harmful.

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-3

We are too young and lack strength to do any work.

Mentally and physical disabled children of any age group cannot do this work

Work we can and cannot do, by the Children of Balkur Panchayat, published by the Concerned for Working Children, 1999

Concerned for Working Children (CWC)

303/2, L B Shastri Nagar Vimanapura Post
Bangalore 560 017
Tel: 0091-80-25234611
Fax: 0091-80-25235034

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