Childcare in India today 

Childcare in India today 

A brief history of child welfare policies around the world

Historically, childcare, as an idea has been central to the building of societies. The institution of family in itself has been central to the emergence of other institutions like religion, justice and the modern nation-state. Various cultures and religions have approached the idea of childcare differently, but regardless of their diversity, there has been a secular concern towards the welfare of children, as it was seen as their duty to carry the family forward into the next generation. 

Over the passing of time, modern nation-states emerged and childcare moved from being a concern limited to individual family’s, to a concern that was shared by society and the nation. In the United States, charity towards childcare began in the form of providing nurseries in poor settlement colonies, to take care of infants while their mothers were at work performing industrial labour.

The US government got involved with child care after the onset of the Second World War, where, under the Lanham Act of 1943, $52 million was provided from 1943-46 to subsidize, all-around day care for children, for up to 6 days a week. This support allowed working women in the United States to take part in the war effort but was terminated soon after the end of the war, when women were, once again, expected to go back home and take after their children full time. 

Post the war, up until the 1970s there was no real progress made in terms of state-mandated support towards child care, and in 1975 President Nixon vetoed a bill that would provide care for all US children. In 1988, in light of growing concerns about educational inequalities and its impact on the economy at large the Act for Better Childcare services was passed. Due to some technical difficulties in the bill, this was sent to be passed through both houses again, and representatives at the time instead chose to compromise and devolve a set amount to states to fund childcare for the economically marginalised. Finally, in the 1990s bills were passed which guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave to parents and a degree of funding support for childcare, but only for those who were extremely marginalised economically.

 

India ranks 12th among 52 lower middle-income nations having highest infant mortality rates
Photo by Qazi Danish Nazir 

Gaps in child care
The history of state-mandated child care has been similar in most countries, with most large countries dragging their feet on implementing meaningful childcare reform. In light of this gap inadequate policy planning and implementation, as well as the ethical and moral imperative to protect and care for the young, several actors in civil society, in the form of Non-Governmental Organisations, religious organizations, and various charitable trusts chose to fill this gap. 
Over the passing of time, their role has expanded and they continue to support children across the world while also advocating better state intervention through rights-based advocacy in various different countries.

99 million children in total have dropped out of school (Census 2011)
Photo by Qazi Danish Nazir

Childcare in India today 
India has seen several extremely progressive pieces of legislation being passed to support childcare and the wellbeing of Indian Children at large. Schemes like the Midday Meal scheme and legislation such as the Right to Education have looked to guarantee schooling as well as ensure that children consume nutritious food. Institutions such as the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya’s and the Kendriya Vidyalaya’s, have looked to provide quality education at the lowest possible cost, while legislation guaranteeing maternity leave has looked to reduce barriers that may prevent women from entering the workforce.

READ- 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT
    
Shocking statistics show the status of childcare in India 

  1. India ranks 12th among 52 lower middle-income nations having highest infant mortality rates.
     
  2. 1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country – 99 million children in total have dropped out of school (Census 2011)
     
  3. Out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education age-appropriately (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15).
     
  4. There are 10.13 million child labourers between 5-14 years in India (Census 2011).
     
  5. India has 33 million working children between the ages of 5-18 years. In parts of the country, more than half the child population is engaged in labour (Census 2011).
     
  6. 19.8 million children below age 6 in India are undernourished (ICDS 2015) Only 9.6% of children between 6-23 months in the country receive an adequate diet (NFHS 4, 2015-16).
     
  7. 42% of married women in India were married as children (District Information System for Education (DISE).
     
  8. 1 in every 3 child brides in the world is a girl in India (UNICEF).
13 million child labourers between 5-14 years in India (Census 2011)
Photo by Qazi Danish Nazir 

Organizations that work on childcare in India
In light of these alarming facts, there are several organisations that work on childcare in India. Listed below are some of these organisations, that you may consider supporting for their work in this sector. 

1. Child Rights and You (CRY) 
CRY is an organisation that was started in 1979 by Rippan Kapur and his 6 friends at his mother's dining table with Rs 50. They felt that something needed to be done to improve the situation of the underprivileged Indian child. Uncharacteristically, given their backgrounds and motivations, they chose not to start a grassroots-level implementing organisation working directly with and for underprivileged children. They opted instead to make CRY a link between the millions of Indians who could provide resources and thousands of dedicated people and organisations at the grassroots level who are struggling to function for lack of them. Today CRY and its partners, support thousands of children across India, and CRY’s advocacy has helped move progressive legislation, in support of substantive childcare. 

2. Save The Children
The Save the Children Fund, commonly known as Save the Children, is an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries. It was established in the United Kingdom in 1919 in order to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts.
In India, as of December 2017, Save the Children works in 19 states and registered as 'Bal Raksha Bharat', has changed the lives of more than 10 million (1 crore) children till date. In the year 2017, alone, Save the Children reached 22.7 lakh children.

3. Oxfam India 
Oxfam India works primarily through grassroots organisations to bring deep-rooted sustainable changes in people’s lives. We do this through long-term development programming and link it to positive policy changes at various levels. We work for the socially excluded and most marginalised communities by mobilising them to campaign for greater economic and social reforms.

READ- CHILD RIGHTS AND CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA- MYTHS AND FACTS 

India ranks 12th among 52 lower middle-income nations having highest infant mortality rates  1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country – 99 million children in total have dropped out of school (Census 2011) Out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education age-appropriately (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15
Photo by Vivek M

In 2018, Oxfam India achieved the following:

•    13051 children (46% girls) from our intervention areas are now receiving quality education.
•    136 schools and 117 Anganwadi centres are made functional.
•    440 School Management Committees (SMCs) made functional in Primary and Upper Primary Schools.

While Oxfam works on many different verticals, it gives great emphasis towards its work on Girl Child Education. Its campaign to better India’s abysmal record in this department has involved using donations to enrol girls back in school, ensure implementation of the Right to Education, engage in rights-based advocacy to demand better government action on girl child education, and creating awareness across society about the importance of the same.

 You can support this campaign by donating for the cause of girl child education in India.

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