Countdown to World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2015
Over 5 lakh (500,000) Mumbai children get an education at the local municipal or government-aided school (Dept. of Education, MCGM 2008). Most of them live in Mumbai’s crowded, infrastructure-challenged slums. 36% are malnourished. Other deterrents to their progress are the absolute poverty, uncertain and fluctuating income of parents, multiple responsibilities, low quality education and the lack of physical space.
The next decade will create around 375 million skill based employment opportunities in India but only 25% of the new entrants to these jobs will have basic marketable skills. 60% of today’s Indian youth are considered unemployable due to lack of education and low skill levels. Much of these youth drop out of schools to fend for their families which perpetuates the cycle of poverty and increases child labour. These circumstances contribute to a highly pressured childhood and negatively impact their ability to contribute to productive human capital building.
These conditions also leave them particularly vulnerable and susceptible to substance abuse, in particular tobacco. Every day, more than 5,500 children in India below the age of 10 are estimated to try tobacco for the first time. Over 1 crore (10,000,000) Indian children are estimated to be users of tobacco. There is an urgent need to develop an engaging and innovative curriculum supporting the holistic development of the child in order to empower her to take better decisions for her health and education on time and stay in school.