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9 June, 2022

IFGE wants to mark 12 June, the World Day Against Child Labour under the theme “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour.” The day is being celebrated with a ‘Week of Action Against Child Labour’ from 3-12 June with events and activities to showcase progress on the elimination of child labour.–en/index.htm

IFGE endorses the International Labour Organisation (ILO) demand  for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to protect children from child labour. The ILO call states ‘Social protection is both a human right and a potent policy tool to prevent families from resorting to child labour in times of crisis. However, as of 2020 and before the COVID-19 crisis took hold, only 46.9 per cent of the global population were effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit. Coverage for children is even lower. Nearly three quarters of children, 1.5 billion, lacked social protection’.–en/index.htm

According to the ILO, global progress against child labour has stalled since 2016 and 160 million children across the world are still in child labour. The COVID-19 crisis has already eroded past gains and this is likely to continue  unless urgent mitigation measures are taken. The 2022 World Day Against Child Labour takes place shortly after the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour  in Durban, South Africa. Ensuring universal access to social protection is an integral part of the “Durban Call to Action” , adopted during the Conference, and essential to help construct a path towards a world free of child labour, as called for under SDG Target 8.7, and towards universal social protection, as reflected in SDG Target 1.3

From an IFGE perspective education has a crucial role to play in reducing and eliminating child labour and this was reflected in the proceedings of the Durban conference. It is, therefore, essential that SDG 4 ‘Quality Education’ is pursued with an increased focus on seriously tackling major obstacles such as child labour. One of the key points in the Durban Call to Action is ‘Realize children’s right to education and ensure universal access to free, compulsory, quality, equitable and inclusive education and training’. Education strategies have proved critical in the prevention of child labour and in rehabilitation of former child labourers, but there is, we believe, a real need to intensify this process and bring more financial backing to it.

International Programme on Eliminating Child Labour (IPEC) has shown leadership and experience in using education to combat child labour in both formal and non-formal settings. This has proved significant in the prevention of child labour and the rehabilitation of former child workers. Non-formal or transitional education has also played a key role in the rehabilitation of former child labourers. Vocational education and training can provide the skills needed to access employment, which in turn contributes to local and national development. In addition, IPEC has been providing policy advice and technical assistance to governments to ensure that educational policies pay special attention to children at risk of child labour.–en/index.htm

Initiatives such as the EU funded TACKLE project implemented by the ILO have aimed to tackle child labour through education in 12 countries across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries. The project has helped prevent child labour and withdraw children from child labour by offering them alternatives.

Good practices in tackling child labour through education from the IPEC TACKLE Project are outlined here

IFGE is firmly supportive of ‘the right to education’ which is denied to those in child labour. In addition to the need to improve social protection measures to provide a cushion to those living in poverty, we, therefore, endorse the implementation of possible education based solutions as referenced by the European Commission. These include:

  • aligning the minimum working age and the end of compulsory schooling

  • improving the overall quality of education, which increases the chances of students staying in school and succeeding

  • abolishing or reducing school costs, which may be unaffordable for some and include school-feeding facilities

  • register every child at birth, as a birth certificate with proof of legal identity and age is often required to access education

  • providing or increasing universal child benefits as part of countries’ social protection system and other policy instruments, which could potentially promote more equitable access to education

  • back-to-school campaigns and outreach in response to pandemic related school closures and to sensitise parents on the importance to invest in education

  • flexible school calendar and curricula to incentivise school attendance and cope with family farms needs for seasonal light work

  • facilitate school-to-work transition for children aged 15-17 years through vocational education and training (VET) to provide them with knowledge, skills and competencies to access decent jobs when they reach working age

  • involving the formal and informal private sector operators and reduce the mismatch between skills and labour market requirements

  • empowering teachers’ unions to improve teachers’ working conditions and wages

  • improving school infrastructure, including safe roads, water and sanitation