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Schooldays Over.

Schooldays Over.

“Good God! to think upon a child, that has no childish days,
No careless play, no frolics wild, no words of prayer and praise!
Man from the cradle, ’tis too soon to earn their daily bread,
And heap the heat and toil of noon, upon an infant’s head.
O, England! though thy tribute waves, proclaim thee great and free,
While those small children pine like slaves, there is a curse on thee!”


Extract from a poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon entitled “The Factory”,
Read her poem in full here.

Child labour, as we are aware, is the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives them of their childhood; interferes with their ability to attend regular education, or is mentally, physically, socially and morally harmful to their being. Poverty and lack of schools are considered the primary cause of child labour.

Child labour has existed to varying extents throughout world history and as late as 2017, four African nations (Mali, Benin, Chad and Guinea-Bissau) witnessed over 50% of children, latter aged between the ages of 5-14, working, the largest employers of child labour.

With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, there was a rapid increase in the industrial exploitation of labour, including child labour. The Victorian era in particular became notorious for the conditions under which children were employed.
Children as young as four years old were employed in factories and mines, working long hours in dangerous, often fatal, working conditions. In coal mines, children would crawl through tunnels, latter too narrow for adults to fit.

Children were also employed as errand boys, shoe blacks, or selling matches, flowers and other cheap goods. Some children undertook work as apprentices to respectable trades, such as building or as domestic servants. Their Working hours were long: builders worked an average of 64 hours a week during summer months and 52 hours during winter months, while servants indoors worked an 80-hour week.
Child wages were low; as little as 10–20% of an adult male’s wage.

With the later growth of trade unions these issues began to change. German-born philosopher, economist, political theorist, historian, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist, Karl Marx (1818-1883) was an outspoken opponent of child labour, stating that British industries “could but live by sucking blood, and children’s blood too”, and that U.S. capital was financed by the “capitalized blood of children”.

The English poet and novelist, better known by her initials Letitia Elizabeth Landon [L.E.L.] (1802–1838) castigated child labour in her 1835 poem “The Factory”, portions of which she pointedly included in her 18th Birthday Tribute to the Princess Victoria in 1837.

Thankfully, in this case our world has changed considerably for the better.

Schooldays Over.

Lyrics: The late, great British folk singer, songwriter, folk song collector, labour activist and actor, James Henry Miller, better known by the stage name of Ewan MacColl.
Vocals: Irish singer, folk musician and Dublin actor, the late, great Luke Kelly.

Schooldays Over.

Schooldays over, come on then John, time to be getting your pit boots on.
On with your sark* and the moleskin trousers*, it’s time you were on your way,
Time you were learning the pitman’s job and earning the pitman’s pay.

Come on then Jim, it’s time to go, time you were working down below.
Time to be handling a pick and shovel, you start at the pits today,
Time you were learning the collier’s job and earning the collier’s pay,

Come on then Dai, it’s almost light, time you were off to the anthracite.
The morning mist is on the vallеy it’s time you were on your way,
Time you were learning the miner’s job and earning the miner’s pay.

Schooldays over, come on then John, time to be getting your pit boots on.
On with your sark and the moleskin trousers, it’s time you were on your way,
Time you were learning the pitman’s job and earning the pitman’s pay.


End

[* sark: Any long, shirtlike garment worn next to the skin, as a chemise, nightshirt].
[* moleskin trousers: Working menswear, woven of carded cotton yarn in a dense weft-faced satin weave, similar to today’s jeans in terms of cut and construction and still commonly used to make trousers today].

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