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South Asia Regional Congress on Child Labour and Education

South Asia Regional Congress on Child Labour and Education

“Education the Right Response to Child Labour”
12 June 2008, New Delhi

Background and Rationale

Child labour is a critical obstacle in the path of children's development and society's sustainable development. Children who must spend the most important stage of their lives striving merely to survive are denied the opportunity to develop to their full potential. One in every eight children 5 to 17 years old - 179 million - work in the worst forms of child labour. There are around 300,000 child soldiers involved in over 30 areas of conflict worldwide, some younger than 10 years old. In the 21st century as bonded or forced labour with more than 12.3 million forced labour victims worldwide out of which 2.4 are victims of trafficking, according to ILO’s Global Alliance Against Forced Labour Report.

South Asia

The vast majority of the world's slaves are in South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Millions of children in India are given up by their families into virtual slavery as domestic workers.

Despite a ban on employing children under 14, India's labour ministry recently said there are 12.6 million children aged between 5 and 14 working, the largest number of child labourers in the world.

In the recent progress reports on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and the Education For All (EFA) targets have identified that child labour is the major obstacle to access to education. The 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report indicated that 77 million primary age children are still not enrolled in school and many countries risk not achieving the 2015 target.  The Report stated that “Education for all requires an inclusive approach that emphasizes the need to reach groups that might not otherwise have access to education and learning” it called for policies aimed at “reaching the unreachedincluding the policies to overcome the need for child labour”.

The Global March firmly believes that ending the economic exploitation of children can only be possible when free, compulsory and quality education is assured for all children regardless of gender, race, religion, and social or economic status. The elimination of child labour and education for all are two sides of one coin. One cannot be achieved without provision for the other. With governments, international agencies and civil society committing not to let education for all fail due to lack of funds, the elimination of child labour becomes a realistic goal. All stakeholders must take this inseparable relationship into account in their policymaking, law enforcement, budgetary measures and developmental aid in order for all children to enjoy their childhood with books, and not with tools and labour.

The theme for this year’s World Day Against Child Labour is rightfully “Education is the Right Response to Child Labour”. Education, as has been amply demonstrated, is the only approach that should be adopted by all the stakeholders and social leaders to end exploitation of children.

The World Day Against Child Labour has a huge significance for the Global March movement; the voice of the global marchers was heard and reflected in the draft of the ILO Convention 182 against the worst forms of child labour. The following year in 1999, the Convention was unanimously adopted at the ILO Conference in Geneva on 12 June, and later marked as the World Day Against Child Labour commemorating the voices of millions of children around the world demanding an end to child labour and all forms of exploitation of children.

Child Participation is at the core of Global March vision and action. Global March believes that children are subjects of rights, rather than merely recipients of adult protection, and that those rights demand that children themselves are entitled to be heard. This is further reinforced by ILO Recommendation 190 on the implementation of ILO Convention 182 (concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour) which states: The programmes of action referred to in Article 6 of the Convention should be designed and implemented as a matter of urgency, in consultation with relevant government institutions and employers' and workers' organizations, taking into consideration the views of the children directly affected by the worst forms of child labour, their families and, as appropriate, other concerned groups...”

The best way the children can truly learn that they have rights and come to believe in them through the process of acting on them. Having a voice about their rights is therefore essential to push for their fulfilment.

Objectives: South Asia Regional Congress on Child Labour and Education aims to

Visibility and Advocacy: on the issues of child labour and education in the South Asia region amongst main stakeholder groups such as policy makers, government agencies, bilateral and multilateral agencies, academia, workers associations, corporations, children’s groups and representations, media and other civil society groups

Promote Child Participation – and genuine representation of children’s voices and demands at the regional policy forum

Knowledge Sharing – on various facets of child labour, worst forms, education strategies, corporate social strategies, etc.