Resolution on Child Labour

The 6th World Congress of Education International, meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22 to 26 July 2011:

1. Recalls

a. the UN Declaration on Human Rights which states that everyone should have the right to free, compulsory education for at least the elementary and fundamental stages;

b. the Convention on the Rights of the Child which establishes the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development;

c. ILO Convention 138 and Recommendation 146 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (1973) which states that the minimum age of employment should be no less than the age for completing compulsory schooling and in no event less than the age of 15;

d. ILO convention 182 and Recommendation on the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999) which establishes elimination of the WFoCL as priority;

e. the Education for All goals (Jomtien 1990 followed by Dakar 2000) which aim for universal basic education for all in 2015 and affirmes education as a basic human right;

f. the Millennium Development Goals (2000) focused at the eradication of poverty through quantifiable targets, among which one specific goal on education (goal 2 universal primary education) and various others that are directly related to education or affect the right to education (among which 3 gender equality)

g. the The Hague Roadmap for achieving the Elimination of the Worst forms of Child labour by 2016 (2010), which states that still 215 million boys and girls are engaged in child labour and miss out on education;

h. paragraphs 9 and 10 from the Resolution on fundamental workers’ rights of the ITUC congress 2010 in Vancouver;

2. recalls the remarks of former Director General of the ILO, Michael Hansenne:"Childhood is a period of life which should be devoted not to work, but to education and training; child labour by its very nature and the working conditions in which it is carried out, often compromises children’s potential to become productive and useful adults in society; finally, the use of child labour is not inevitable, and progress towards its elimination is possible wherever there is political will to oppose it with determination";

3. observes that despite the growing awareness of and action against this scandalous form of exploitation of the most vulnerable within our society, child labour continues to exist in many forms, including bonded labour;

4. observes that child labour and the lack of decent work for adults are closely linked;

5. observes that child labour and the absence of schools or of education of sufficient quality are closely linked;

6. observes that the gender dimension of child labour is still not very well addressed, as girls’ child labour is often of hidden nature (domestic work, agriculture, prostitution, small services and handicrafts) and outside of the common definition of “work” (mostly defined in economic terms).

7. observes that the Education for All goals can’t be reached when only focusing on the worst forms of child labour;

8. acknowledges the overwhelming evidence that education is one of the most significant factors in the prevention and elimination of child labour and in breaking the poverty cycle;

9. acknowledges the specific role of educated mothers in the prevention of child labour and in the schooling of children, especially girls;

10. recognizes that eliminating child labour and improving the quality of education are strongly interlinked - the first will not happen without the second - and that teachers, educators and their organizations have a critical and particular contribution to make to the elimination of child labour as do politicians, government officials, employers and the international financial institutions;

11. recognizes the crucial role of education unions in accessing schools, pupils, parents and their communities through their members; teachers and other education workers being important advocates for children and their rights as well as crucial partners for quality education;

12. condemns governments that fail to legislate comprehensively or act decisively against child labour and employers who exploit children to increase profits;

13. condemns governments that fail to provide quality universal basic education for all or fail to enforce legislation on school attendance;

14. condemns governments in rich countries that fail to provide funding to developing countries willing to achieve the EFA goals;

15. welcomes the increasing action being taken on the elimination of child labour by the ILO, UN agencies, ITUC and affiliated GUFs, as well as by NGO’s, and is committed to working in partnership with them;

16. welcomes the work against child labour already being done by many EI affiliates;

The Congress determines that Education International shall:

17. work continuously and pro-actively on the eradication of child labour and the provision of quality education and encourage, support and coordinate the active participation of all affiliates; provide tools for action to and disseminate materials and good practices among unions and their members,

18. with the aim to
a. prevent any more children becoming child labourers;
b. withdraw those currently working and provide them with effective, quality education;

19. focus on the following strategic areas:
a. opposition to economic and social policies that cause or perpetuate child labour; through exacerbating the parents’ situation;
b. comprehensive legislation and effective enforcement; with possible sanctions for those who use child labour and support available for the most disadvantaged families;
c. mainstreaming child labour concerns into national education policies;
d. comprehensive government education policy and the resources to provide for good quality, universal and free early childhood services and compulsory primary and secondary schooling, and encompassing transitional and special education services, as well as vocational and higher education; improved training, status and working conditions for teachers and support staff;
e. income support for families and employment opportunities for parents;
f. inclusion of the gender dimension in all actions;
g. creation of forms of intensive bridging education that enable children who missed the the entry into 1st grade according to their age to catch up with their peers and be mainstreamed into full-time formal education

The Congress calls on member organizations to:

20. lobby their respective governments in developed countries to devote at least 0.7% of their GNP to development assistance and to dedicate an appreciably higher amount of such assistance to the development and improvement of public primary education.

21. adopt specific policies and a programme of action on child labour  as well as support for unions in developing countries wanting to address the topic;

22. co-operate with Education International and through it with the ITUC, ILO, UNICEF and UNESCO, and with other trade unions, union centres and non-governmental organizations, at the national level to eliminate child labour nationally, regionally and internationally;

23. approach and urge all governments to ratify the international treaties concerning child labour;

24. disseminate the facts of child labour to union members and the general public to enhance their awareness and arouse public opinion against child labour;

25. campaign for adequate resources to allow for an expansion of public education, including quality early childhood services, schools, transitional and special education and vocational training to ensure access to education for all;

26. develop age appropriate curriculum materials to be used in schools in both industrialised and developing countries that address the issues of child labour for students who are in danger of becoming child labourers and for those who are consumers of products made by child labour;

27. develop specific strategies for girls and women which take also into consideration the specific social and economic benefits countries have from educated mothers;

28. promote quality teacher training and in-service development to enable teachers to meet the diverse and special needs of children, particularly the most disadvantaged, those at highest risk of becoming child labourers (children in conflict zones, regions with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, ethnic minorities etc)  and those who have been child labourers;

29. develop strategies for monitoring non-enrolment, non-attendance and drop-out at school and its relationship to the spread of child labour; and to use that information to work with parents and local communities so that they understand the value of education and the costs of child labour, and are encouraged to participate with the local early childhood services and schools in decisions about the education of their children;

30. lobby governments to adopt and enforce adequate legislation on school attendance and school inspection;

31. lobby with other unions for decent working conditions for adults and with non-governmental organizations for integrated programmes for poor families whose children are, or are at risk of, becoming, child labourers, including health services, meals for children attending an early childhood centre or school, adult education, vocational training and employment programmes, and family income support;

32. build up regional networks for information exchange, discuss the issue of child labour periodically and take concerted action to eliminate it.

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