The World Day Against Child Labour threw the spotlight on Fiji, where collective efforts between unions and the International Labour Organization are aiming to use quality education to curb the country’s growing problem.
As part of the ongoing efforts to eradicate child labour, the Fiji Teachers Union teamed-up with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Fiji Trade Union Congress to make quality education the incentive to keeping children out of work.
Together, the groups marked the World Day Against Child Labour by organizing a day of workshops on the 13th of June for 40 union leaders, aimed at effectively making sure education is not only the top choice for children, but to ensure that it provides the foundation for helping eradicate poverty.
The workshops focused on areas ranging from legislation and community awareness, to the role teachers play in making school environments friendly for children. The workshop also targeted the issue of decent work for parents to meet the needs of their children.
In 2012, Fiji’s Labour Ministry joined forces with the ILO to launch a two-year programme called “Tackling Child Labour through Education,” or Tackle, which aimed at both eliminating child labour and to getting children back into formal education. The programme is coordinated at the grass-roots’ level by the People’s Community Network (PCN.)
The problems of child labour in Fiji have been well documented, and although steps have been taken at local and international levels to stop it, the practice continues.
Every year, poverty forces an untold number of Fijian children to work, in many cases to support their families. The agriculture and street work sectors are the most common, and the most dangerous for child labour.
In recent years, the growing population of urban poor has exploited scores of underage labourers, who find themselves working up to 12 hours a day to shine shoes, sell fruit, cut sugar cane, to falling into the sex trade or forced into drug trafficking.