Spending time on domestic chores can impact education, finds study

NEW DELHI: A new study has found time spent on domestic chores can impact education. Data collected from 952 children and their communities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has shown that 12-year-olds who spend three hours or more on household chores in a day are 70% less likely to complete secondary education.

These findings came to light after Renu Singh and Protap Mukherjee studied data gathered through the Young Lives longitudinal study of childhood poverty to determine the factors impacting children’s participation in and progress through secondary education – GradesĀ 9 and 10.

Young Lives tracked the progress of these kids through school for over a decade starting 2002 when they were aged eight to 2013 when they were 19. Data was collected in multiple rounds and in the third (2009) round, they were 15. Determinants of Successful Completion of Secondary Education: Evidence from Young Lives, Andhra Pradesh, was released on November 16.


Considering the high correlation between drop-out rates and time spent on errand-running, the study’s authors have pushed for safeguards to be worked into the amendment of the Child Labour Act that proposes to allow kids under 14 to work in non-hazardous family enterprises.

Of the 952, 680 completed Grade 10 successfully and 48.8% were continuing their education in vocational studies or higher education. The variables considered were classified into four categories — socio-demographic factors, household characteristics, pre-schooling and “individual (child) characteristics” which includes nutrition status, “self-efficacy”, reading and writing ability – all at age 8 – and time spent on domestic chores and participation in paid work at age 12.

The number of kids who reported working over three hours at home is low — 58. Of the rest, 299 kids didn’t work at all; 398 kids worked one hour; 195 worked two. The sections dropping out from these groups are 19.4%, 25.1% and 39.0% respectively. The drop-out percentage for the three-hour category was 65.5%; with all other parameters factored in, the likelihood of kids working over three hours dropping out is estimated to be 70%.

“Combining work and school is a reality for children under 12 in a pro-poor sample like ours. And it’s not harming the education of kids in the one-two hour group. But that changes with the last group,” Singh said. In the proposed amendments, already passed by the cabinet, there’s no provision for defining the nature of work or a time-limit. “There’s no monitoring mechanism. All you can do, then, is raise awareness,” she added.

There’s rising aspiration for education among the poor but in the absence social protection, policies have to be very carefully worded, she said. With all factors accounted for, girls are 45% less likely to complete secondary education than boys.

Most kids start primary school already at a disadvantage. The researchers have found very high correlation between kids reading and writing well at age eight and completing secondary school. “The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan addresses only secondary and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (and Right to Education Act) only primary. But what about kids under six? The foundations have to be laid then,” Singh said.

Those among the respondents who attended private pre-schools did well; those who attended the anganwadi version of pre-school – provided for by the Early Childhood Care and Education policy – not so much. “The early years need much more focus,” they said.

courtesy: times of india