What do you remember the clearest from your childhood? Is it playing around with your friends, making up new games and staying out so long your parents had to come and get you? Is it perhaps the secret hiding place you made with your brother in the garden? Or is it all those hours spent in school that triggers your memory? I surely link most of my childhood memories to my early years’ education. Excitement, joy, frustration, boredom, feeling of accomplishment, trial and error. All that is learning. All that is empowerment.
Too many children today will not relate to the memories above. Too many children are victims of child trafficking, child slavery, and child marriages. According to UNICEF, an estimated 150 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour. In the least developed countries, nearly one in four children (ages 5 to 14) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development. In India, where I live, 1 in 11 children are working. Most of them live in rural areas, and work in agriculture. However, also here in Delhi children working on the streets and in construction sites is not an uncommon sight.
What will be their clearest childhood memories? They are more likely to be dominated by threats and exhaustion than of grammar and calculus. These children are deprived of an education. The right to learn explore and rise in society is taken from them.
Ask yourself what you can do to make sure that fewer children are left with these sad childhood memories. Help raise awareness and engage your surroundings in this important and urgent matter. We should all be taking part in empowering these children.