Education International
Education International

Indonesia: teacher union joins the ILO to combat child labour

published 11 March 2009 updated 11 March 2009

In a bid to decrease school drop-out rates, the International Labour Organisation and the Indonesian teachers' union, the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia (PGRI), are organising a joint programme aimed at combating child labour.

Launched earlier this month, the programme is called the "Mobilization and Capacity-Building of the Teachers' Trade Union and Wider Trade Unions in Combating Child Labour in Indonesia".

Under the programme, teachers will receive training which will help them gain a better understanding of child workers and persuade parents to send their children to school.

The three-year program will be implemented in the provinces of East Java, Central Java and West Java, where the incidence of child labour is relatively high. The Japanese trade union confederation RENGO has donated US$130,000 to the programme.

Alan Boulton, Director of ILO Indonesia, said his office recognises that as the largest teacher union in the country with some 1.9 million members nationwide, the PGRI is a powerful agent for social change.

ILO data from 2006 show that there are more than 2.7 million child workers aged 10 to 15 throughout the country's thirty-three provinces. Most boys work in the mining, farming and fishing industries, while girls are often trapped in domestic work and prostitution.

PGRI has already begun approaching parents to make them aware of the country's nine-year compulsory education programme. The union plans to urge the government to extend it to the twelfth grade, with the goal of helping to prepare pupils for entry into the workforce after graduation.

In 2008, PGRI was once again successful in getting the government to devote 20% of its national budget to education as inscribed in the country's constitution. At the PGRI congress held last July, the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, announced that his government would increase the education budget as well as the salaries of teachers annually.

EI and its member organisations are committed to fight child labour, through advocating education as a crucial and effective tool in tackling this issue.

Once again this year, EI and its member organisations will use the World Day against Child Labour on 12 June to raise awareness about the importance of the provision of full time, formal quality education as a means to successfully eliminate child labour.