Education International
Education International

EFA must include marginalised boys and girls trapped in labour

published 18 September 2012 updated 25 September 2012

EI has reacted to an article published in World Education Blog, hosted by the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report team, which declares that “improving teaching and learning is crucial, especially for the marginalised.” It reiterates that the EFA goals will not be achieved unless child labour is eradicated globally.

Child labour undermines the attainment of MDGs

ILO estimates 218 million boys and girls are trap in child labour in the world today (ILO Report 2010), of whom 126 are in the worst forms of child labour. These statistics focus on visible forms of child labour, particularly in the formal or industrial sector and undercount the informal sector where more girls are working, nor do they capture the additional burden carried out by girls in household chores which in too many cases leave very limited opportunity for study.

Child labour undermines the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with regards to education and poverty eradication, and girls’ education of girls, as future mothers, plays a crucial role in reducing child mortality (MDG 4) and improving maternal health (MDG 5), said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

Education unions’ crucial role in eradicating child labour

Trade unions represent a critical force in the fight to end exploitation by ensuring that workers earn decent wages that allow them to send their children to schools.

“We are committed to advocate for quality universal public services, in particular education that is free, universal access, compulsory and child friendly, relevant and includes secondary as well as primary, at least up to the minimum age to work,” van Leeuwen added.

UNESCO: child labour undermines quality education

As the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report will be launched on 16 October, Yusuf Sayed, a former member of the EFA Global Monitoring Report team, assessed progress in education quality.

He explained that “meaningful learning is crucial to ensure that children enrol, stay on and complete education. Unfortunately, progress on providing quality education is still lagging behind advances in enrolment. Regional patterns vary, but the global divide between rich and poor countries and rich and poor learners is marked.”

“This divide, Sayed said, is one reason the UN Secretary General’s Education First initiative, to be launched at the end of this month, has a core focus on teachers and learning. Learning is also central to the debate about what happens in the post-2015 EFA agenda.”

He went on to say that a quality education is one that satisfies basic learning needs, and enriches the lives of learners and their overall experience of living.

Sayed also reminded that quality is the focus of the sixth EFA goal, established at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000, which is “improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.”

“To improve education quality for the poor, it is crucial to provide inclusive and responsive learning environments by making sure that schools are safe, healthy and free from discrimination,” Sayed added. “It is essential, obviously, to ensure that teaching and learning are effective. Making sure that children are taught in the home language is part of this.

He further stressed the need for qualified, motivated, and committed teachers, and better agreement on the characteristics of good quality teachers and the incentives to perform effectively: “As the 2005 EFA Global Monitoring Report showed, rich evidence consistently points to the teacher as the single most important determinant of effective learning. There must be robust systems to assess student performance and help improve learning.”

EI: defending children’ right to quality education

“Quality education means children being taught by a caring qualified teacher, in classes of reasonable size, with multiple texts and learning resources and proper classroom,” also said EI Executive Board member and UNATU/Uganda General Secretary, Teopista Birungi Mayanja. “Making schools safer, a safe place for girls to learn, is essential to increasing girls’ enrolment, but keeping boys and girls at schools requires a combination of comprehensive measures, including more resources for pre-service and in-serving training of teachers and health workers.”

“One of EI’s core priorities is to defend the right to education,” added van Leeuwen. “We stand for quality education as the basis of democracy and social justice. The Public School is a crucial element of any social protection floor.  It is also the most powerful tool to confront the global crisis and achieve sustainable growth, and give hope to young people particularly in the current scenario of global crises.”

The EI Resolution on Child Labour adopted at the 6th EI World Congress, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011, further notes that “EI shall 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.”

Coming International Conference on Child Labour

In this regard, the International Conference on Child Labour, “School is the best place to work: Education unions against child labour,” will be held from 5-7 October 2012, in Berlin, Germany.  This event is organized by EI and member organizations GEW/Germany and Aob/The Netherlands, with the support of the International Labour Organisation - Bureau for Workers' Activities (ILO-ACTRAV), the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES).

It aims at identifying and strengthening education unions’ role in combatting child labour and achieving EFA goals. It will also lead to a fruitful exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices between education unions from southern and northern countries.

Around 80 education unionists from all over the world are expected, as well as 20 experts from UN agencies, Global Union Federations, trade union centres and NGOs.

The Conference's agenda can be found here

The 2011 EI Resolution on Child Labour can be read in its entirety here

Yusuf Sayed’s article in World Education Blog is available here