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World Day Against Child Labour

African girl selling peanuts by roadside (source: Roman Bonnefoy)12 June 2009 -- This year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark ILO Convention No. 182, which addresses the need for action to tackle the worst forms of child labour. Whilst celebrating progress made during the past ten years, the World Day will highlight the continuing challenges, with a focus on exploitation of girls in child labour.

The 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.

A key indicator to track is the percentage of girls that complete their primary education. See the progress made by 5 countries from 1991 to 2004 >>

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:

- provision of free and compulsory education;
- tackling barriers to girls education;
- ensuring that children have access to a school and a safe and quality learning environment;
- providing catch up education opportunities for children and youth who have so far missed out on formal schooling;
- tackling the worldwide shortage of teachers and ensuring a properly trained and professional teaching force;
- enforcing laws on child labour and education in line with international standards;
- tackling poverty, and creating decent work for adults;
- raising public awareness to tackle child labour.

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO)

Selected learning materials

Employers' Handbook on Child Labour
This handbook is a reference manual for employers and their organisations to implement policies and programs in accordance with the ILO.

Fields of Hope: Educational Activities on Child Labor. Teacher's Guide
This guide includes eight lessons intended for ages 12-15. The lessons are intended to enhance students' knowledge and understanding of child labor issues internationally.

"How to Protect Human Rights?" Lesson Plan: Children's Rights in the UN System of Human Rights Protection (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland)

Study Guide on the Rights of Children & Youth

Teaching for Human Rights: Grades 5-10

International treaties on child labour and the right to education:

- Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)

- Simplified version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

- ILO Convention (No. 138) concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (1973)

- ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (1999)

Useful links

ILO website on Child Labour

ILO Report "The end of child labour: Within reach" (May 2006) PDF file

Human Rights Watch World Report 2002-Children's Rights

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) - Child Labour




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Related e-learning course

Monitoring Children's Rights

Related resource

In June 2005, HREA hosted an online conversation about child labour and the right to education with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education. Read transcript >>

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