Ludhiana, April 1
The Centre’s decision to discontinue the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) has left 1,500 students in the lurch.
Special Training Centres (STCs), which were set up under the scheme, ceased to be operational from today. In Punjab, the centres had been functional in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana since 2001.
The STCs were started for those who were into child labour and not enrolled in any school. Besides education, vocational training was the focus area of the STCs.
The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment has subsumed the NCLP under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). This means that STC students will now be enrolled in mainstream schools.
Surjit Singh, who operated seven centres under the NCLP, said: “Rescued children will find it difficult to adjust in regular schools.”
He further said, “The STCs served a purpose. Students were given mid-day meal and a monthly stipend of Rs 400 which was credited into their bank accounts.”
Not only students, but teachers and staff as well have been left at the crossroads. Some of them had been working at STCs for 20 years. The staff were not paid for two years.
Ramesh Ratan, who was the incharge of the STC at Focal Point here, said: “We were hoping that the project will get an extension, but that was not to be.”
Usha Patyal, who taught at the NCLP centre number 2, said Central government’s decision would prove to be disastrous. “The purpose of launching the project, under which child labourers were identified, rescued and rehabilitated, has been defeated.”
Abhishek, who studied at one of the centres, said there had been several occasions when he had thought of quitting the school, but his teachers always encouraged him to not give up.
He was unsure whether or not he would get enrolled in a mainstream school.
District Education Officer (Primary) Jaswinder Kaur said students studying under the NCLP would be enrolled in regular schools. “The data of such students will be uploaded on schools’ websites in a day or two. I do not know the reason for discontinuing the NCLP,” she added.
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