Seventy percent of all working children are active in the agricultural sector, a harsh and dangerous environment for a growing child. In 2007, the main focus of the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June was to raise awareness and promote activities on the elimination of child labour in agriculture.
According to the International Labour Organization, about 70 percent of all child labour is in the agricultural sector. The 2007 Global Monitoring Report on Education for All furthermore indicated that over 80 percent of out-of-school children live in rural areas. Agricultural work is a dangerous profession regardless of age, but is particularly damaging to children and adolescents. Child agricultural workers often work long hours surrounded by large machinery, chemicals (such as pesticides and herbicides), dust, and other such hazards. They are less capable than adults of withstanding extreme conditions that harm their physical and mental development. Those working children who do attend school often lack the energy to concentrate on their studies.
Eradicating child labour has been a primary goal of Education International (EI) since its foundation in 1993. In order to more effectively work towards ending child labour on an international scale, EI has joined together with various UN agencies (ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP), the World Bank and the Global March Against Child Labour to form the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education for All. This new grouping reflects recognition that Education for All cannot be achieved without addressing the causes of child labour, e.g. poverty and a lack of free, quality, public education.
Collective action by teachers and their allies has the capacity to positively impact national policies. EI calls on its member organisations to join in the fight against child labour and to this end has produced, together with the ILO –IPEC Programme, a booklet outlining ways in which teachers can contribute within their unions, schools, and communities. For example, a union can coordinate campaigns with other trade unions, arrange meetings with the Ministry of Education to establish what action is being taken on child labour, produce press releases and articles to raise awareness on the subject. In schools, teachers and administrators can monitor attendance and the health of students and try to find ways to prevent drop-outs by talking to children and their families and providing special support to those most at risk of leaving school. In their communities, teachers and their unions can help to coordinate activities to increase awareness of child labour.
Entitled ‘Harvest for the Future: agriculture without child labour’, the booklet is available in English, French and Spanish and soon in Portuguese. EI will send copies of the publication to all affiliates shortly. We encourage you to use the activities in the booklet or to come up with your own activities.
To download the publication, please click on the link below.