November 2004: The concept of synergising efforts towards Education for All, elimination of Child Labour and poverty alleviation got a further boost with the success of the second Round Table organized in Brasilia, Brazil on November 8th. The UN agencies, governments from Southern as well as Northern countries and civil society organizations once again joined hands in the efforts to concretize the triangular paradigm to address the issues of child labour, education and poverty.
The key message of the round table was that poverty cannot be eradicated without eliminating child labor. Free, quality, meaningful and compulsory education is one of the most effective, preventive, curative and sustainable rehabilitative strategies to end child labor. Without ensuring education, the menace of child labor cannot be wiped out. There is always the danger of these children becoming trapped into the worst situations.
It was recognised that there is urgent need to break the cycle of poverty by providing all children access to education, eliminating the worst forms of child labour and raising the minimum age to work.
There was recognition by the participating governments of the economic interest for the newcomers in the labour market with a minimum level of education and good health will be considerably more and longer productive workers
There was agreement that while there have been commitments to achieve EFA goals, eliminate the worst forms of child labor, and reduce poverty, there have not been much institutional or systematic efforts towards synergising the policies addressing these three development areas. Throughout the world the ministries responsible for the elimination of child labor have little or no connection with achieving quality education for a country’s children and vice versa. The elimination of child labor is missing from most educational schemes and plans. Finance ministries lack adequate understanding of child labor and education as prerequisites to development. It was felt that it is critically important to harmonize the work between the different ministries concerned with elimination of child labor, education and poverty alleviation. This task should be strengthened at the national level in the southern world and also within the context of the international agencies work on cross cutting issues.
It was also the considered view that most of the Governments present in the meeting that elimination of child labor is critical to achieve poverty alleviation and education for all goals, well demonstrated by large number of governmental delegations participating in the round table. However the governments expressed the view that bringing children out of work requires urgently income transfer programme for the poor, to ensure that the children can attend schools. It was also suggested to compliment this with food programme for the children attending schools, undertaking national level efforts to identify and register children who are vulnerable, to use a package of services including strengthening the legal enforcement. It was strongly suggested that the donor governments should come forward and support the southern governments in this endeavor.
It was also agreed that the innovative strategies involved in elimination of child labor and bringing children to schools, and alternatively the strategies from education for all which have led to the elimination of child labor in specific countries should be documented and brought forward for dissemination and learning. This task should be undertaken in the immediate future by the agencies involved.
It was agreed that International Labor Organization will host a working group which will be with the representation of all the all the organizing agencies until June from Geneva and it will work out the details for the establishment of the Global Task Force as a mechanism to follow up on progress made in the elimination of child labor.
This Round Table was jointly organized by the Global March against Child Labour, UNESCO, ILO and the World bank. It was co-hosted by the Government of Brazil and ICCLE, the Northern Advocacy Office of the Global March, in conjunction with UNESCO’s fourth EFA HLG meeting on November 8, 2004. The round table was chaired by Mr. Ad Melkert, formerly Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Employment and presently Netherlands Executive Director, The World Bank. The key note speaker was the Minister of Education from Brazil and the Minister of Labor, Brazil. The other participating Ministerial delegations where from Ministry of Social Affairs, Brazil, and Education Ministry delegations from India, Pakistan, China, Kenya, Guyana, Yemen. From USA the representation was from the US Department of Labor, Head of the Child Labor Education Initiative. The donors were represented by the Governmental delegations from Japan, Norway, Sweden, European Commission, Canada, Germany from the Ministry of Development Cooperation and USAID. Also present were the Senior Vice President of the World Bank, the Head of the Education, World Bank, the Head of the ILO-IPEC from Geneva, the Head of the UNESCO on Education. The civil society was represented by the Chair, Global March Against Child Labor and the Deputy. Secretary General of Education International /Global Campaign for Education.
It was also proposed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China that it will host the next round table at Beijing in Nov 2005.