One seldom finds a literate member in the waste-picker community. Children of waste-pickers often join their parents as a helping hand to their labor. They barely get any support or guidance in the enrollment of children in schools and there is nobody to keep a check on the drop-outs. Educating sons is considered a risk that many do not want to take – will the effort and expense to educate the son ensure employment? Daughters, on the other hand, cannot be too educated. This will make it difficult to find educated grooms from within the community. Moreover, there are structural difficulties, like lack of opportunity, finances or access to education.
This outlook, has however, come a long way since 1991. The struggle to educate has been the struggle against apathetic government systems that thwart the implementation of schemes; fellow members of the community who continue to send their children to work; those who encourage child marriage; scrap dealers who continue to buy scrap from children; labor department and the Municipal Corporation that should ideally universalize
decentralized waste collection systems so that it is much easier to monitor and
ensure that no child works
The struggle continues in many ways. These battles have resulted in progress, solidarity and victories. As Baida bai says in Purna Chakra, “When our children too become Doctors, Lawyers, Pilots and mingle with others, none will be able to tell the difference.”