This article provides a critical reading of current efforts in India to enroll in school all children between six and fourteen years of age. These efforts usually gain moral certitude through their being constructed within a binary frame of reference i.e. formal schooling as the space that "saves" child laborers. Neither exhaustive in its review of existing literature nor in its attempt to address the working of this binary worldwide, this article largely draws on different narratives to reveal the ways in which international policy discourse relies on a particular construction of children, childhood, and family in the non-Western world. The framing of the issue that the binary sets in place and its subsequent impact on policies is discussed through an interrogation of its underlying assumptions as well as its influence on the local. To transcend a culturally relativistic reading of these narratives as local examples, incapable of exercising larger analytic weight, the article utilizes these to discuss three dominant constructions that underlie this binary, namely constructions of the child, of school, and of labor.


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pp. 267-285
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