The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of the world’s poorest children to halt their educations and go to work to help support their families, as schools have closed and parents’ incomes have fallen or vanished.
The children do work that is arduous, dirty and often dangerous: hauling bricks or gravel, scavenging for recyclables, begging or chopping weeds on plantations. Much of their employment is illegal.
It is a catastrophic shift for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, undoing years of gains for education and against child labor, and undermining their prospects of climbing out of poverty. Countless promising students have had their educations cut short, and it remains unclear when schools will reopen. But even when they do, many of the children are unlikely to go back to the classroom.
Here are some key findings of a New York Times report on conditions for these poor children.
The work is often dangerous and illegal.
Former pupils have been forced into heavy manual labor on construction or demolition sites, picking through garbage, doing sex work, mining for sand or working in factories making cigarettes or fireworks.
The jobs carry risks of injury, or worse, and the hazards are especially acute for children — more so when they lack protective equipment, or even shoes. In the Indian city of Tumakuru, an 11-year-old boy, Rahul, set out barefoot with his father on a recent morning to scavenge for recyclables at a waste dump.
India has the world’s largest school-age population and the fastest-growing number of coronavirus cases. The country’s laws prohibit anyone under 14 from working in most circumstances, but its poverty means that it had a large market in
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