Children’s Right to Education
Vimala Ramachandran
BORN UNFREE: CHILD LABOUR, EDUCATION AND THE STATE IN INDIA by Myron Weiner, Neera Burra, Asha Bajpai Oxford University Press, 2007, 213 pp., 595
March 2007, volume 31, No 3

This omnibus edition brought out by Oxford University Press is a timely compilation of important landmarks in the child labour and education debate in India. All three of the books by Myron Weiner, Neera Burra and Asha Bajpai included in this omnibus have been central to the debate on the issue in the country. While the empirical information contained herein may be outdated, the books taken together argue convincingly for the need for greater political commitment and administrative muscle to ensure every single child in the country can realize her right to childhood. The introduction by Neera Burra locates the debate in the current context wherein the government has amended the Constitution of India and made right to education a fundamental right and the more recent notifications of the government on total ban on child labour in several occupations hitherto known as non-hazardous. However, the introduction is patchy and pales in comparison with the three classic books because it fails to locate the debate in the larger debate on quality of education, discrimination within schools and a range of factors that push children out of school.

The relationship between child labour and education is complex. Evidence from across the world suggests that compulsory education is a necessary condition for the abolition of child labour.

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