February 6, 2007: 80 million out of school children are not sitting idle at home or enjoying child-hood playing computer games and music, they are victims of forced slavery, forced child labor, trafficking, forced migration, displacement, extreme poverty, violence and conflict, HIV Aids, physical disabilities, etc. They are further victimized by denying their right to full time quality education”, said Kailash Satyarthi, addressing the Norwegian National Education For All (EFA) Forum organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.
The meeting was Chaired by Olav Seim, Senior Advisor Education in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and involved Norwegian Government Representatives responsible for ILO, UNICEF, NORAD, UN Section, besides Save The Children and Trade Union LO Representatives, besides several members of the Forum. Mr. Satyarthi, Chair Global March Against Child Labor/ President Global Campaign for Education together with Dr. Sudhanshu Joshi, Advocacy Coordinator,Global March were in Oslo for day long discussions on February 6, 07 on the status of EFA, FTI and GTF with H. E. Ms Anne F. Stenhammer, State Secretary, International Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was organized on the request of the International Center on Child Labor and Education, Washington, D.C. by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While applauding the success of the international community on the decrease in out of school children and child labor during last five years and enhanced finances and commitments made in Education sector, he elaborated and underscored five key challenges including gaps in financing, political will, policy coherence, practice, socio cultural environment and capacity as the key obstacles in the realization of Dakar and MDG goals. Mr. Satyarthi suggested that replication of experiences like Bolsa Escola and other cash transfer programmes in countries food for education in Bangladesh, mid day meals in India, abolition of school fees in China, Kenya and Tanzania etc could be the starting points for consideration as the way forward to bring the hardest to reach children in classrooms.
He admired the leadership shown by the Norway, Netherlands and U.K. in the EFA Fast Track Initiative which has emerged as the most promising mechanism to fill the financial and capacity gap. The EFA-FTI could be more effective if the quality of the national education sector plans could be improvised by including concrete measures in reaching the hardest to reach children and quality dimension. He stressed the need for inter agency and inter- ministerial coordination and collective ownership of such plans.
Addressing the forum Dr. Sudhanshu Joshi, Executive Director, International Center on Child Labor and Education and Global Advocacy Coordinator, Global March Against Child Labor outlined the urgency for elimination of child labor to achieve education and MDG’s as child labor is the biggest obstacle. He cautioned the donor countries that the potential to realize full value of their development financing cannot be realized unless the innovative and collective special measures taken to withdraw the children from factories, farms and mines. According to Dr. Joshi the formation of the Global Task Force on Child Labor and Education is a step forward towards inter agency cooperation in this regard. GTF has to prove its leadership through proactive and concrete steps in this regard. He demanded that the quality and value out of the Education for All High Level Group meetings and the Global Monitoring Reports (GMR) should provide more effective value than in the present format as instruments for tracking the progress made in EFA and particularly on the remaining job of hardest to reach 80 million children and the quality imperative. This will also offer considerably improve the Education Sector plans of the national governments and make them more realistic and practical.