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Focus Archive

12 June 2008 - The World Day against Child Labour

June 2008

This year the World Day against Child Labour will be marked around the world on 12 June 2008 with activities to raise awareness that Education is the right response to child labour.

Child labour - a barrier to education

The International Labour Office (ILO) has estimated that some 165 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labour. Many of these children work long hours, often in dangerous conditions.

Child labour is closely associated with poverty. Many poor families are unable to afford school fees or other school costs. The family may depend on the contribution that a working child makes to the household's income, and place more importance on that than on education. And when a family has to make a choice between sending either a boy or girl to school, it is often the girl who loses out.

More than ever today, children need a good quality education and training if they are to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in the labour market. However, in many countries the schools which are accessible to the poor families are under-resourced and inadequate. Poor facilities, over-sized classes, and lack of trained teachers lead to low standards of education.

In the Millennium Development Goals the United Nations and the broader international community set targets of ensuring that by 2015 all boys and girls complete a full course of primary education and that there is gender parity in education.

These targets cannot be met unless the factors that generate child labour and prevent poor families from sending children to school are addressed. Among the most important steps required are:

Promoting human rights and development

The right to education occupies a central place in human rights and is essential for the exercise of other human rights and development. It provides a means through which economically and socially excluded children and youth can lift themselves out of poverty. When children who have had the benefits of education grow up, they are more likely to choose to send their own children to school.

Investing in education is also a sound economic decision. A recent ILO study found that the elimination of child labour and its replacement by universal education would yield major economic benefits in addition to the social benefits. Globally benefits exceed costs by a ratio of more than 6 to 1.

Hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

The ILO launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of these children. The day, which is observed on June 12th, is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.

The World Day Against Child Labour provides and opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women's groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.

Join the ILO on the World Day Against Child Labour

The ILO look forward to a World Day that is widely supported by governments, employers and workers organizations, UN agencies, and all those concerned with tackling child labour and promoting education. You and your organisation is invited to be part of the World Day. Join us and add your voice to the worldwide movement against child labour. For more information contact: ipec@ilo.org

For full details: www.ilo.org/ipec/Campaignandadvocacy/WDACL/2008/lang--en/index.htm