3 June 2009


This year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 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 Against Child Labour on 12th June 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.

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.

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