What has been accepted and needs to be reckoned that the total number of child workers is always a matter of debate. An exact estimate of magnitude of child labour in Odisha is difficult to be made because of method of estimation and source of data. Add to this woe, the estimation on the incidences of child labour vary in one report with another, conducted at different point of time. As per a sample child labour survey conducted for Orissa in 1987, the total number of child labour registered in the State was about 7 lakhs. In conformity with the direction of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, a special survey was made by the labour department to assess the incidence of children employed in hazardous and non-hazardous occupations. 

The estimation made in the survey report indicates the children employed in both hazardous and non-hazardous occupations were numbered 215222. The girl child labour accounted to be 43.53% of total child workforce, as identified in the report. Based on the periodic survey on employment and unemployment situation in India conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), it is found that 9.6 lakh children were working in different sectors of employment. The incidence of child labour in rural areas was estimated to be 9.4 lakh. 

The survey of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), estimated that 21 lakh children were out of schools in Odisha for the academic year of 1999–2000. On principles, those children could be considered as child labour. Another estimation made by SSA indicates that, as on 31st December–2003, the total number of out of schools children were 8.09 lakh. The magnitude of child labour engaged in hazardous and non-hazardous employment is available from the official statistics of State Labour Institute, Odisha. As per the survey, it is estimated that the incidences of children employed in hazardous and non-hazardous occupations were numbered 277071.However; this survey had covered only 12 districts of Odisha. 


The definition of child labour, which clubbed children who are not going to schools, either in the category of never enrolled children or dropout children with child labour, reflects the paradigm of shift from need based approach to right based approach for development, considering the fact that out of schools means child is employed somewhere which is itself a denial to the child fundamental right of education. 

According to the child census report of Orissa Primary Education  Programme Authority, in Orissa, there are 603290 numbers of 6-14 years age group children are out of schools. The never enrolled children are numbered 339958. The calculation of enrolment, retention and dropout, in general opinion, is somewhat doubtful because the teachers themselves in the schools collect the information. This estimation might not reflect the reality due to bias of teachers either for compulsion to save their skins by reporting one kind of thing against another or by deliberation. Denying all the facts and fictions, if one accepts calculation and computation of the government report he can smell the ominous sign of child labour. 

The children who have dropped out of schools inevitably join the labour force at the lowest level. The report of school and mass education department of Orissa government gives an impression that the rate of dropout in primary schools is 32.09% and 49.1% in upper primary schools for the year 2004-2005. If odd of 32 children are dropped in every 100 students in a gap of 5 years, the enormity of the situations itself speaks the volume of the problem. The children who have dropped from schools after completing 4 years schooling are literally constitute a group of ‘functional illiterate’. The male children dropped from the schools are employed in agriculture and allied activities. The girls are usually involved in house work, and some parents prefer to get them marry at early stage.

Submitted By,

Samuel Katraka,

President  & CED,

Rural Life Development Society

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