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Education unions play a crucial role in eradicating child labour through quality public education

Education international has reminded the International Labour Organisation’s Centenary Conference Forum to commemorate the World Day against Child Labour that educators and their trade unions worldwide are determined to eradicate this scourge and guarantee access to education for all.

Speaking to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Centenary Conference forum on child labour, Education International (EI) Chief Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific Anand Singh stressed: “Quality, inclusive public education is the key to eradicating child labour and education unions can play a crucial role in accomplishing that goal.” The high level forum took place on 13 June, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Singh explained has been working since its foundation to tackle child labour through advocacy to improve access to education, and by supporting teachers’ professional development. This includes technical cooperation programs. In target schools in over 10 countries where EI works with member organisations on child labour projects, there is a strong emphasis on child-centred pedagogy. Working with parents and the community, these schools have been able to bring children into school, reduce absenteeism and lower school dropout rates.

In addition to marking the World Day against Child Labour, this year was the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the 1982 ILO Convention on the “Worst Forms of Child Labour”, which has nearly reached the level of universal ratification (it would be the first).

ILO Director General Guy Ryder opened the forum, recalling that child labour has been a priority concern of the ILO since its foundation in 1919. In his remarks, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo underlined that child labour is a consequence of a broken system, which, in the face of the climate crisis, urgently needed a complete overhaul.  

The event was also the opportunity to launch a new ILO training package, the SCREAM module. It  uses music to raise awareness of child labour among children and adults. Education International had an advisory role in the module’s creation.