Almost one-third of child labourers in the age group of 5-14 years in West Bengal cannot even write their names, according to a report. An analysis of the latest Census data by the NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) reveals that one in every three child labourers in the state within the said age group is illiterate.
Even for children who support their families by working for less than six months in a year, a very common feature in the state, the situation is bleak, said the report. As findings point out, a whopping 48 per cent of these marginal workers have compromised their education.
“There is a high potential of early school leavers to remain outside the world of employment. These children, when they grow up, remain at the risk of not having secure jobs, thus getting trapped in the intergenerational cycle of poverty and deprivation,” Atindra Nath Das, regional director of CRY, said.
A district-level analysis of the state scenario shows that illiteracy among working children is highest in North Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad districts with an average of 40 per cent followed by Purulia with a comparatively lower 30.3 per cent.
However, districts like East Medinipur, Kolkata, Howrah and North 24 Parganas fare better with less than 15 per cent illiteracy, the report said.
Cross-analysis of out-of-school-children data from the state reveals that while 4.3 per cent of students drop out from school during upper-primary level, the drop-out rate skyrockets to 18.3 per cent at the secondary level.