India, the largest cotton producers in the world, is also having some of the highest percentages of children in their workforce. In order to help the children, IKEA Foundation is now extending its grants to $10 million. The foundation is collaborating with the NGO Save the Children.
A 2008 study in India estimates about 500,000 child laborers in Punjab, around 350,000 in Haryana, and 440,000 in Rajasthan. In the first two states, 26 and 16 percent of children are working in the cotton manufacturing. And in Rajasthan more than 46 percent of the children drop out of school.
In Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra more than 65,000 children aged from 6 to 14 have been rescued from child labor. These children were enrolled in schools.
Almost 89,000 children under the age of 6 now benefit from a quality preschool curriculum and 16,000 aged between 15-to-18 receive vocational education and training.
By taking Gujarat and Maharashtra as examples, these new initiatives aim to repeat their achievements. The NGO is planning to improve the quality of education and is trying to reduce the dropout rate.
It is also trying to boost family incomes in these states, via government social security and rural work schemes. Above all, it aims to raise awareness of the risks children face from working in cotton fields and factories.
According to the CEO of IKEA Foundation Per Heggenes, this is a natural step, in their collaboration with Save the Children, to strengthen children’s rights in India.
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