Members of the Republican Trade Union Committee of Education and Scientific Workers are addressing the challenges of child labour and gender equality in order to improve quality and access to education.
Thirty participants, members of the Republican Trade Union Committee of Education and Scientific Workers (RC-STES), took part in a workshop on child labour and Education for All organised by the Education International’s Asia-Pacific (EIAP) region from 6-8 November in Kurgantube, Tajikistan.
The workshop helped participants to:
- Identify Kurgantube’s areas where child labour is predominant;
- Discuss children’s school attendance and its correlation to child labour;
- Discuss the role the local teachers’ union should play in reducing/eradicating child labour; and
- Plan an activity to be undertaken at rayon(district) level to reduce/eradicate child labour and achieve Education for All.
Much time was spent in defining child labour, as participants had a different notion of what constitutes child labour, noted the Education International Asian Pacific (EIAP) Coordinator Jerome Fernandez.
Kurgantube, in the Khatlon oblast(region), knows a high rate of child labour. Mostly, children from poor families, single parent families have to work to earn money in order to buy textbooks and school uniforms. Children work in markets, are employed in brick-making small enterprises, or are forced by their parents to go pick cotton.
Fernandez insisted that at the end of the workshop, participants understood better why trade unions should commit themselves to eradicate child labour, and how child labour is a threat to the achievement of Education for All.
The local trade union committee will monitor the implementation of an anti-child labour programme by the participants, who will report on their successes in December 2015 at a planning meeting.
From 9-11 November, the EIAP regional office also organised a workshop on gender equality in Rasht, Tajikistan, gathering 30 participants, aiming for them to:
- Identify the issues faced by women in the Rasht region in general, and issues faced by women teachers and girls in schools in particular;
- Identify the causes for such phenomena;
- Identify other stakeholders with whom the union could cooperate to address these issues; and
- Plan an activity to be undertaken at rayon level to reduce/eliminate gender inequality.
Rasht is a very rural district with a conservative, patriarchal community, Fernandez explained, where religion plays a dominant role in society. There are many issues faced by women and girls, including little support for secondary and university education, and exposure to early marriage.
Participants recommended to: hold more workshops of this kind; invite men to gender equality workshops; have gender workshops in all rayons of the region; and raise awareness among women about gender equality and their rights.