Child Development Project


“Priority must be given to efforts for the immediate end of hazardous and exploitative child labor and to urge support for education, so that children may acquire the knowledge and skills that can enable them to improve their lives. It also stresses the need for the basic services, social development strategies, income-generation measures and legal protection for children, their families and communities”

B Boutros Ghali, Ex. UN Secretary. 

Outline of this page

The problem
Poverty induced after-school child labor and outdated education system cause skill & knowledge gap among underprivileged children. Rural & tribal Indian children are generally malnourished due to lack of awareness and poverty.

Our strategy
Fighting injustices such as child labor, an outdated educational system, and malnourishment to create better citizens of tomorrow.

Our work
Identification of child laborers and extending the NCLP – the National Child Labor Project. Increment of the family income of our child beneficiaries. Additional provision of contemporary education, free learning tools, and health support to deserving children through our free child literacy centers.

Keep reading to learn about the reasons for our policy interventions, and to see a breakdown of our policy methodology and costs.

system map - child project
Click to view the enlarged system map
  • Scouts and Guides programme
  • Encouraging young girls to educate children

Wider Context

Unfortunately, the children of India are robbed of their rights to simplicity and purity during their childhood years and are instead plagued by the adversities of child labor, the futility of an outdated educational system, and the dangers of malnutrition.

Child labour: Poverty can be seen as the leading cause of child labor in India. However, it is vital to note that with the entrance of vulnerable, low-paid children into the labor force comes the exit of more outspoken, high-paid adults from the workforce. In such a manner, children become the primary wage earners within their families, which inevitably interferes with their chances to go to school and build brighter futures for themselves, leading to educational ignorance and the inability to eventually enter a skilled workforce. Thus, a vicious cycle is constructed: poverty causes child labor, an act which further reinforces impoverishment. In other words, child labor comes the exploitation of children on economic, mental, physical, and educational levels, along with the perpetuation of their destitute socioeconomic status. Regrettably, according to the 1998 National Consensus of India, the country had reported an approximated 12.6 million child laborers in their population of 253 million children, aged 5 to 14 [1].

Outdated educational system: Although the new constitution upholds equality, liberty, and fraternity as the three pillars of the educational system they had hoped to establish, the outdated beliefs of teachers seem to act as invisible obstacles to such principles, resulting in an inefficient educational system. First, it was reported that many educators believed that girls and low-caste children were genetically incapable of learning, thus challenging the idea of ‘equality’. Next, they believed that directly passing information was the only appropriate way in which children could learn, rather than allowing the students to construct their own knowledge through more interactive activities. Such a view eliminated the possibility of ‘liberty’. Finally, educators encouraged their students to acquire jobs to secure power and status, rather than to serve their people, thus defying the concept of ‘fraternity’. These views continue to impede educational reforms [2].

Malnutrition: Malnourished children are a regular sighting in India. Unluckily, 47% of children are underweight, 16% are emaciated, and such severe malnutrition leads to 54% of all deaths before the age of five [3]. Poverty, food shortages, and poor feeding habits are among a few of the causes of malnourishment [4]. Furthermore, such dietary deficiencies, along with the consumption of contaminated water and the practice of poor hygiene, weaken the immune system and lead to many diseases such as respiratory infections, diarrhea, and the like. These bring about the early deaths of approximately 2.1 million children before they have reached the age of five [3]. Evidently, malnutrition is one of the principal causes of child mortality in India.


Tackling such problems becomes a challenge for the state government due to the deficiency of funds, lack of human resources, and the irregular communication among members. Governmental departments like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, ICDS, and MGNREGS are trying to deal with injustices like child labor, child malnutrition, and poverty that prevail in the rural areas.

However, without the assistance of developmental agencies like SHAPE, such interventions become laborious and drawn-out. Therefore, we provide the necessary labor, time, and dedication towards such interventions. According to a UN report published in 2017, over 4.4 million children are under the bondage of labor in India. Tamil Nadu alone has 300,000 (age <14) documented after-school child laborers.

On top of this, only 3 million children (ages 15-18) are registered in schools out of the 6.3 million in the state. Working children are often cut off from the community, denied rest and play, and are at risk of hazards such as drug addiction and sexual abuse within the workforce.

Denied education and trapped in a cycle of poverty, their most basic rights, their health, and their lives are in jeopardy.

Through our Child Education and Health Development Project, SHAPE offers our children the opportunity to live happier, healthier, and safer lives. We firmly believe that education is the key to such change.

Accordingly, we run free child literacy centers in the districts of Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, and Tiruvallur where the less fortunate (out of school children, rescued laborers, orphans, low-caste children, and HIV infected children) are finally able to cash in their right to education.

These children are offered aid in the form of school supplies, uniforms, food, medical care, and free literacy. Through education comes the eradication of poverty, the promotion of health awareness, and the surge of environmental and social welfare. Our children are the future.

They are the citizens of tomorrow. Thus, we must set them on the correct developmental path to ensure that they arrive at greatness.

Our work

Free literacy center Beneficiaries from Nookambadi village

We identify child laborers and help the expansion of the Indian Government’s National Child Labor Project (NCLP). Click here to know more about the NCLP.

We help the families of child laborers become self-sufficient by guiding them along the path of income generation. We do this by providing scholarships and covering some expensesRead more to know how we do this through our woman welfare project.

Through our free child literacy centers, we provide education and health supplements to 450 children who are low-caste, orphaned, victims of HIV, physically challenged, and suffer from other mental or physical illnesses.

We provide our services to a public library in Vadaandapattu Village which lies in the center of the district. We aid in the maintenance of the library and donate books. We mainly have a collection of free university-level books for underprivileged college students studying Management, Economics, Engineering, the Arts, and Science. University students contribute their books to this library from all over the state. In addition, we provide English skill-building books for adults & children of all ages. Unemployed and job-seeking youth find this library highly useful for developing their soft skills. We are very grateful for all contributions that help us expand our collection of books.




UN Early childhood development:

UN Children: