Making a fervent appeal to society to ensure that no child was deprived of education, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi today said he would shortly launch a movement “100 million for 100 million” to save 100 million children deprived of their childhood.
Delivering the keynote address at a conference on ‘Excellence in education’, organised by The Hindu in association with Blue Star here, Satyarthi said the children were victims of violence, slavery and trafficking. Denial of education was also a form of violence against them. No child was responsible for poverty, but they were victims of poverty and they were victimised as they were either forced into slavery or become labourers or into prostitution, he said.
On the other hand, he said, the 100 million young people were full of energy and enthusiasm, and had a strong element of idealism. They were hungry to prove themselves and contribute to society. If society was unable to give them the opportunity, all this energy ended up in frustration and violence, he added.
A 100 million young people in schools and colleges would become the voices and spokespersons for a 100 million children who were deprived of their childhood. He urged those present to be strong partners in this movement as it would create a sense of global citizenship.
Quoting World Bank, which found that one single-year schooling for the whole society in a country helped increase GDP by 0.37 per cent, Satyarthi said if you are able to educate the entire generation for 10 years, the GDP will grow annually by 4 per cent, pointing to the strong economic imperative to educate children.
The Nobel Laureate said it was society’s moral responsibility to ensure quality education for all children. “That is why I refuse to accept that people who are sitting in this hall are unable to bring about change in the entire educational system. You have that power, capacity and influence to ensure equity in education, inclusion in education and quality in education,” he added.
He said education was the key for sustainable development; World Bank and Unesco studies provided enough evidence for this. Every single year of primary schooling of a child gave an additional return in 10-15 per cent income in later stage of life. Income levels increase to 20-25 per cent if secondary education was also provided. He said millions of children in the world were deprived of their basic childhood and education. “We don’t understand the power of education. We have to act now,” he said.
Eradicate child slavery
Efforts should be taken to ensure that child labour and child slavery were completely eradication and future generations read about them only in history books. “I have been fighting for education for liberation and liberation for education. But policies are segregated, implementation is so poor while we are dealing with different aspects of child rights. Our organisation is working for a holistic and comprehensive policy where we can convert the programmes and policies for betterment of children,” he said.
Satyarthi said we were responsible for the problem of 100 million children who were left out and were sold and bought like animals, who were buried alive in Syria or killed in Pakistan.