Kathmandu: Experts and stakeholders working for elimination of child labor, child rights protection and children’s wellbeing have said that the government as well as non-governmental agencies and other stakeholders need to accord utmost priority to child rights issues as national pride project. Speaking at the third edition of Nepal Live talk show entitled “Child Labor Dialogue,” they said if all stakeholders prioritize the issue, it will not be difficult to achieve the goal of eliminating all forms of child labor.
As we are at the phase of concluding the 15th Plan and making preparation for the 16th Plan, said Tilottam Paudel, the child protection expert, we need to prioritize children in the 16th plan. “We should not think that big infrastructure projects are the only pride projects for us. Children’s issues are also an issue of national pride and it should be considered as such,” he said. According to him, the investment we make on children today will pay off in the future. “If we call infrastructure projects national pride projects, why cannot the issues of children be issues of national pride? Why cannot we make elimination of child marriage a national pride program?”
While acknowledging that children’s issues have been addressed by the constitution and the concept of child-labor free palika is being realized and the government has contributed to children’s participation issue, Paudel said that much more needs to be done to ensure participation of children in child-focused programs. “There is still an inadequate investment in this sector. This issue needs to be further enhanced and mainstreamed by the state,” he said. He also called for increasing investment on child welfare programs. “The state should invest more,” he said. “We have not been able to provide budget for the school meal program beyond grade five. We need to invest in programs like school meal. But we have not been able to raise child nutrition allowance from Rs 525.”
Likewise, Kusum Sharma, child advocacy expert at CLARISSA Nepal, said that there are not only one but several cross-cutting factors which land children in labor. “You cannot look into one single factor, such as financial problem. You have to look into family issues, school issues among others,” said Sharma. She also called for ensuring participation of children is programs related to elimination of child labor and their welfare. “Our experience of working with them shows that when we involve the children in labor in the programs, they bring out more effective solutions to their problems,” she said. “We need to stress on the meaningful participation of children in their issues. Without doing so, we the adults or the children who are not in child labor, cannot help bring out the real solution.”
Ramesh Kadel, the undersecretary from Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and the chief of Local Level Coordination Division, informed that the government of Nepal has been conducting various programs to improve lifestyle of children and safeguarding of their rights. Apart from Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, said Kadel, the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens and other line ministries have been implementing specific programs focused on marginalized children and communities. “The government of Nepal, provinces as well as the local governments are working for rescue and rehabilitation and development of marginalized children and children in labor. We have been working on policy levels, implementation level and resource generation and partnership levels.”
Nepal aimed to eliminate the worst form of child labor by 2022 and all kinds of child labor by 2025. But Nepal has already failed to achieve the first target.
Watch full episode here: