Child labour free zones are geographical areas – such as a village, plantation area, small island, urban neighbourhood, or cluster of communities – where all children are systematically being taken away from labour and (re)integrated into formal, full-time schools.
No distinction is made between different forms of child labour, because every child has the right to education. The focus is therefore not only on children who work in a specific sector or on the worst forms of child labour, but on all children within that area who don’t attend school. These include so-called ‘invisible’ children who work on their family’s land or as domestic workers in the household. In the child labour free zone, people believe that poverty is not the main cause of child labour. Rather, child-unfriendly traditions and norms, the violation of workers’ rights, and poor education systems explain why so many children don’t attend school. The area-based approach towards child labour free zones involves all stakeholders, including teachers, parents, children, unions, community groups, local authorities, religious leaders and employers. The power comes from the people living in these communities who set the norm that ‘no child should work; every child must be in school’.