Global March Against Child Labour: From Exploitation to Education
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Global March Against Child Labour
Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education

Global Task Force UN Summit event reinforces link between child labour and MDGs

 

The UN High-Level Plenary meeting which focused on follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ended on 22 September with Heads of State adopting by consensus the outcome document which includes an action agenda to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Global March will be reporting further on the Summit on its web site.

As members and partners will recall from the campaign materials published prior to the Summit, the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education For All felt it important to draw the attention of the Summit participants, media and others to the embedded links between eliminating and preventing child labour, promoting education for all and achieving the MDGs. In this context, a panel discussion was organised on 21st September 2010 to further examine the links between child labour and education and the broader context of achieving the MDGs. The panel, which was moderated by Ms Constance Thomas, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), included the following discussants:

Mr Ad Melkert, Rapporteur of the Hague Child Labour Conference, May 2010;
Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children;
Madam Marcia Lopes, Minister of Social Development, Brazil;
Ms Yoka Brandt, Director-General, Directorate-General for International Cooperation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands;
Mr Olav Seim, Director of Education for All Coordination, UNESCO;
Mr Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labour;
Ms Toni Cortese, Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), on behalf of Education International (EI).

The panel discussion was well-attended hopefully highlighting renewed interest in child labour and its direct links to the achievement of EFA and the MDGs. Several speakers, including Mr Ad Melkert, highlighted the references in Roadmap 2016, the outcome document of the Hague Child Labour Conference, to the need for indicators on child labour across the MDGs and the vital importance of launching the follow-up process. Mr Melkert also emphasised the need for greater support for child labour elimination from the international community and, in this respect, called for the high-level group referred to in the Roadmap’s recommendations to be set up as soon possible. As with other discussants, Mr Melkert underlined the fundamental point that as long as child labour is not targeted with greater resources and more effective and coherent action, the MDGs cannot be achieved.

The thrust of Mr Melkert’s comments were upheld by Ms Yoka Brandt who expressed the determination of the Dutch government to carry forward the issue of child labour within the context of the MDGs, including at the EU level. The commitment of the Dutch government to child labour elimination was manifest through its hosting of the Global Child Labour Conference in May 2010, and Global March welcomes its strong support for the follow-up to Roadmap 2016, in particular the link between child labour and education.

Madam Lopes reminded participants that the Brazilian government would be hosting the follow-up conference to the Hague event in 2013 and she provided some effective and sustainable examples of how Brazil has succeeded in integrating child labour into education and social services policies and programmes, including the renowned Bolsa Familia programme. She highlighted the importance of focusing on an integrated, coordinated and coherent approach in tackling child labour. In her comments, Ms Santos Pais pointed that worst forms of child labour were forms of violence against children and she focused on the human rights dimension of child labour, emphasising the need for the long-term commitment of the UN and its agencies to its elimination and prevention.

Mr Seim and Ms Cortese highlighted the deep link between child labour and education and the crucial role of education for all in elimination and prevention programmes. Mr Seim commented on the need to improve access to ensure that all children can go to school and the need to implement specific programmes to target child labourers and address their educational needs. He also emphasised the key role of inter-agency co-operation in this process and felt that much could be learned from the co-operation and links established between education and health. Ms Cortese also highlighted the critical aspect of education quality in tackling education challenges, particularly the need to ensure more and improved pre- and in-service training for teachers and decent working conditions to help increase the numbers of qualified teachers. She also referred to the need to improve learning outcomes and how this connects with the incidence of child labour.

In his comments, Mr Satyarthi reinforced five key points:

Urgency in accelerating efforts to sustainably tackle child labour and improving resources to achieve this.
Accountability of all stakeholders in the process, including in terms of follow-up to Roadmap 2016.
Coordination and co-operation between UN agencies, government departments and ministries, civil society organisations, trade unions, employers, and other stakeholders.
Social accountability particularly within the private sector, highlighting the need for greater and more meaningful engagement of business and the establishment of an accountability framework which is transparent and monitored.
Partnership between all actors to reinforce the multi-stakeholder characteristics of child labour elimination, improve resource availability and enhance coherence between policies and programmes at all levels.

He pointed out the crucial importance of launching follow-up to Roadmap 2016 which was acclaimed four months previously in May 2010. He also emphasised the need to “demystify” the MDGs for all people so that everyone could participate in local, national and international debate on the issue and understand what they are supposed to achieve and how. In addition, he underlined the need to ensure that information and debate outcomes from the MDG Summit and related side events trickle down to national political levels, in particular the link between achieving national development goals, the elimination of child labour and the promotion of education for all. It is vital that discussions at academic and UN levels are translated into national political will, tangible resources and concrete action to achieve development goals.

Several important conclusions can be drawn from this event:

Immediate follow-up action needs to be initiated on Roadmap 2016.
Child labour must be integrated across all efforts to achieve the MDGs, including through the establishment of indicators.
Practical steps need to be taken to improve policy and programme coherence between UN agencies, government departments and ministries, social partners and civil society groups.
Immediate steps should be taken to ensure that the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education For All is properly financed and coordinated and can develop and implement an effective and coherent plan of action in line with Roadmap 2016 and the MDGs.

Global March will be focusing on follow-up to the outcomes of the UN Summit and the Global Task Force side event and will continue to keep members and partners informed of future developments.

Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education

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