Article on role of educated society in curbing child labour...

Article on role of education society in curbing child labour
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When a society makes education compulsory and available to all, one of the many advantages this confers is the end of child labor. (Of course, if you’re a kid, as I was, you may beg to differ. On the second day of first grade, I handed in my homework and asked when I could expect to be paid, and how much. As soon as it was revealed that I’d be stuck in school for at least twelve years, doing endless work for no pay… well, suffice it to say it was a pretty poor incentive program, as far as I was concerned!) While children sometimes were paid (albeit much less than an adult doing the same work) for factory work in the bad old days, it was a miserable time to be a kid. OSHA didn’t exist, so there were no attempts to improve workplace safety. You worked for long hours. If you were paid at all, you could expect your parents to take it away from you when you got home, as they weren’t much better off than yourself. In those days, the only children who could expect an education and avoid being exploited for cheap labor were the sons and daughters of the wealthy. There were public schools, but parents had a choice of sending their kids to school or sending them to work. It wasn’t unusual for a parent to decide that a kid in school was a lazy kid, while a kid in the factory was working hard to support the family. When schooling became compulsory, a lot of folks complained about it! So child labor laws came into being around the same time. Fortunately, labor unions weren’t too far behind, which helped fill in the gap and allowed factory workers to make a livable wage. In the pre-industrial age, there were educated societies, but many children had to work on family farms or serve as apprentices to local craftspeople. This was how one learned a trade. Among the merchants, it behooved one to know how to read and write and do mathematics, so often merchants’ children attended school. In other families, especially if they lived in a town or city, certain children attended school while others went to serve as apprentices, depending on either their aptitude or their parents’ plans for them. England in Shakespeare’s time was much like this; young William Shakespeare very likely had an excellent Classical education in addition to spending a few summers or semesters assisting a butcher with slaughtering livestock. Both of these experiences can be seen in his work. This is why he could insert references to history and mythology into even his low comedies - people of all levels of society knew enough to get the references.
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