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Fighting child labour with quality education

Fighting child labour with quality education

New ILO report shows the need for coherent policies tackling child labour and the lack of decent jobs for youth together

GENEVA – Around 20 to 30 per cent of children in low income countries complete their schooling and enter the labour market by the age of 15, says a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report prepared for World Day against Child Labour. Most of these children were in child labour before.

According to a Statement by Director-General International Labour Organisation (ILO) delivered on the occasion of ‘World Day against Child Labour Guy Ryder’, making the link between education and child labour is key to developing effective strategies that can break the cycle of poverty which is a key factor, if not the sole factor, in producing child labour.

As things stand, the aspirations of many parents for their children and of children themselves for a decent education will remain unfulfilled dreams. Many girls and boys have no chance to attend school. Some try to combine school and work, but all too often must dropout of school well before reaching the legal age of employment and become child labourers.
The situation today is further aggravated by the impact of conflicts and crises. In conflict zones, students and sometimes their teachers have been the victims of violent attacks and kidnapping. Reports of schools being destroyed are not uncommon. The infrastructure of stability and prosperity is being undermined.
In a range of circumstances families are fleeing physical and economic insecurity, crossing borders and hoping for a better life. Children make up a large share of these migration flows, at times travelling without their parents. Such journeys are frequently paths to child labour and exploitation.
“Without adequate education, former child labourers are more likely than others to end up in poorly paid and insecure work as adults or to be unemployed. And there is a high probability that they will live in poverty and that their children will share the same fate.”
A collective challenge and responsibility is to enable all children, girls and boys, to have access to education, quality education. Second-class education perpetuates second-class citizens.  We all know that a solid education and good teachers can make a world of difference to the lives and futures of children and young people.

The World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young people  shows that young persons who were burdened by work as children are consistently more likely to have to settle for unpaid family jobs and are more likely to be in low paying jobs.

“Our new report shows the need for a coherent policy approach that tackles child labour and the lack of decent jobs for youth together. Keeping children in school and receiving a good education until at least the minimum age of employment will determine the whole life of a child. It is the only way for a child to acquire the basic knowledge and skills needed for further learning, and for her or his future working life,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

To take up this challenge, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize co-Laureate Kailash Satyarthi who will address the ILO’s International Labour Conference on 11 June , calls for a change of mindsets: “When we consider our biological children, we think that they are born to become doctors, engineers, and professors – the whole world is for them. But when we talk about other children, we think, ok, they are poor children, let them work, we will slowly help them. Let us consider all children our children.”

Main findings

The report addresses the twin challenges of eliminating child labour and ensuring decent work for young people. Based on a 12 country survey, it examines the future careers of former child labourers and early school leavers.

The main findings of the report are that:

  • Prior involvement in child labour is associated with lower educational attainment, and later in life with jobs that fail to meet basic decent work criteria;
  • Early school leavers are less likely to secure stable jobs and are at greater risk of remaining outside the world of work altogether;
  • A high share of 15-17 year olds in many countries are in jobs that have been classified as hazardous or worst forms of child labour; and
  • Those in hazardous work are more likely to have left school early before reaching the legal minimum age of employment.

 The report recommends early interventions to get children out of child labour and into school as well as measures to facilitate the transition from school to decent work opportunities for young people.

Particular attention should be given to the 47.5 million young people aged 15-17 in hazardous work and the special vulnerabilities of girls and young women.

“National policies should be directed towards removing children and young people from hazardous jobs and, of course, towards removing the hazards in the workplace,” Ryder said.

The ILO’s most recent estimate is that 168 million children are in child labour, with 120 million of them aged 5-14. The report underscores the critical importance of intervening early in the life cycle against child labour.


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