EFA only hope for millions of child laborers to freedom and security
Welcoming the establishment of Global Task Force on child labor and education Mr. Kailash Satyarthi termed it as one of the most promising developments towards addressing the inter-linkages around poverty, education and child labor. The Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education which was launched during the Beijing Round Table in November 2005 with the fullest blessings and support of UNESCO's leadership was termed by him as a demonstration of collective will of inter-governmental agencies and global civil society, to fight illiteracy and child labour simultaneously.
Mr. Satyarthi was the keynote speaker in the EFA working group Session on Reaching the EFA Goals: Overcoming Child Labour to achieve EFA hosted by UNESCO in Paris during July 19-21, Working Group meeting.
He congratulated the UNESCO Director General Mr Matsuura and ADG Mr. Peter Smith for their consideration of including a full session dedicated in the all important EFA Working Group meeting in Paris on July 19th, 2006. He said that, "Education is not an individual but an inter-sectoral issue. Education for All, is one of the four critical, closely interrelated processes affecting the future of our world, especially our children. The others are poverty, child labour and insecurity."
He said that education is no longer a power tool in the hands of few, but it is freedom, liberty, development, life and future for millions who are trapped in servitude, trafficking, forced beggary, domestic labour, prostitution and child soldiers. Free quality education for all is the key to social justice, equity, protection of childhood and combating poverty. The Task Force is a partnership to mobilise political will and momentum
towards mainstreaming the issue of child labour in national and international policy frameworks contributing to the EFA objectives and MDG's . The task force is to be viewed essentially as helping build an enabling environment for countries that aim to achieve EFA and child labour elimination.
He announced the launch of the two activities being launched by the Task Force as the joint initiatives. First a comprehensive and integrated programme on Child Domestic Labour and education to liberate millions of
child domestic laborers will be launched. Secondly it proposes to work for integration of child labour first and foremost in the PRSP source book which is the guiding tool for the countries to design their strategies. PRSP source book now in its current form pays little explicit attention to child labour.
The other speakers in the session were Secretaries of Education from Morocco and Turkey who explained the special programmes launched by them to eliminate child laborers with the support of the Ministries of Education, Labor and Social Security.
Other Speakers included Government of Jordan which shared the progress in school attendance in his country with the launch of social support policy that includes school nutrition programme rescuing thousands of children from work. The Government of Indonesia informed that they have around 2.4 million child laborers and asked the support of the international community to deal with the problem.
Making an important intervention the Government of Brazil informed the participants that Brazilian Government has accepted the invitation to be a member of the Global Task Force on child labor and education. They also informed that Government of Brazil has given financial support to ILO-IPEC for South-South exchange programme to carry forward the success achieved in Brazil for learning, dissemination and experimental launch in select countries. The Brazilian Government welcomed the launch of the Task Force
but reminded that it is important that the GTF coordinates with EFA Secretariat to assess country by country the need for practical methods to address child laborers special needs and facilitate financial and technical
assistance to the most needy countries that face serious challenge in meeting their obligations towards achieving education for all. He said that FTI Secretariat is also required to take specific steps in this direction.
Government of India informed the participants that it has launched the largest programme launched anywhere in the world to provide mid day meals to the children in the schools to attract and improve school attendance.
Important interventions were made from the Secretary, Government of Bangladesh about the programmes launched for girls and cash incentives offered to them as a modest compensation from loss of work.
The representative of the African Union mentioned that countries like Ethiopia need special programmes to compensate the loss of work for the families if the children have to attend full time schools.
The representative from ANCEFA, a large African NGO spoke on the need for special financial and technical support to the African Countries in combating child labor if the EFA goals have to be realized by 2015.
Government of Mexico informed about the cash transfer, el becas— which entitles money for the parents of children who attend school and was successful. The cash incentive progressively increases when the child
continues to join secondary schooling. He informed that cash transfer programme is efficient-in keeping girls at schools. It has diminished child labor. However he cautioned that cash transfer does not improve the
achievement of children and identified the need to further explore on this experience.
The Secretary, Education, Government of Kenya said that the cause of child labor is poverty and in addition the expenses of attending school are high. In some communities, children's income is critical. For children to attend school, we have to taken several measures…as a government considers child labor is a challenge, we have enhanced school feeding programs. He informed that Kenya requires special assistance to take further steps in ensuring child laborers can attend full time schools. This requires strong
partnership with the international community.
The representative of the Government of Nigeria cautioned that approaches like addressing child labor separately within the EFA can risk attention to close to 11 million children that are out of schools in Nigeria, amongst which not all are child laborers. She cautioned that it is important to focus on PRSP's and to see the core reasons for the prevalence of child labor and its link to the macro economic policies pursued by the IMF and World Bank that has forced the countries to structural adjustments impacting negatively on social sector programmes. She also cautioned that the debt servicing by the poor countries to the international financial institutions takes a heavy toll on their resources. There is a urgent need to have a wider perspective to the prescriptions that are affecting the fiscal management of several countries like Nigeria.
The representative of Sweden wanted to know the time frame of the GTF and if the functions of the GTF are research, advocacy. Mr. Kari Tapiola, Deputy Director General, ILO informed that the time frame of the GTF is until 2015 and that the Secretariat of the GTF is located at ILO, Geneva and it will be rotating every three years between various UN agencies. He also said that the agenda of the GTF is research, advocacy and facilitating support to specific countries on demand.