Statement | World Day Against Child Labour

published 10 June 2022 updated 13 June 2022

On June 12th, World Day Against Child Labour, Education International calls on unions to urge governments to implement the Durban Call to Action on the Elimination of Child Labour adopted at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, held from 15-20 May 2022.

The Durban Call to Action represents an important international commitment to ending child labour which can be used by Education International and its member organisations to:

  • Support advocacy to strengthen quality public education as a tool for the elimination of child labour.
  • Reaffirm the human right to education and free, compulsory, quality, basic education.
  • Reaffirm the central role of social dialogue, the importance of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the ILO’s fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Ending child labour is increasingly urgent

This call to action addressed to the governments of all United Nations (UN) Member States acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and food, humanitarian, and environmental crises threaten to reverse years of progress against child labour.

It builds on the body of international conventions, UN and multilateral conferences and commitments, in particular the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development target 8.7 to end child labour in all its forms by 2025. It recalls the universal ratification of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) and other ILO Conventions, including the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also builds on the commitments made in the context of the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, and the outcomes of the previous Global Child Labour Conferences.

The Durban Call to Action includes commitments in six different areas:

  1. Making decent work a reality for adults and youth above the minimum age for work by accelerating multi-stakeholder efforts to eliminate child labour, with priority given to the worst forms of child labour.
  2. Ending child labour in agriculture.
  3. Strengthening the prevention and elimination of child labour, including its worst forms, forced labour, modern slavery and trafficking in persons, and the protection of survivors through data-driven and survivor-informed policy and programmatic responses.
  4. Realising children’s right to education and ensuring universal access to free, compulsory, quality, equitable, and inclusive education and training.
  5. Achieving universal access to social protection.
  6. Increasing financing and international cooperation for the elimination of child labour and forced labour.

Teacher unions are key to ending child labour and making the right to education a reality

“Schools provide the best environment for all children. Children have the right to a quality education. They belong in school with their teachers and caring educators, not in the world of exploitation of child labour,” stated Education International General Secretary, David Edwards.

Underlining the importance of educators and their unions to eradicate child labour, he was adamant that governments must support teachers through training, continuous professional development, decent salaries and working conditions, and ensure education is made “genuinely free, available, and accessible to all”.

Edwards went on to mention five key teacher and union strategies to make sure children are in school:

  1. Research and evidence.
  2. Advocacy and social dialogue.
  3. Raising awareness.
  4. Community mobilisation.
  5. Creating safe and inclusive school environments.

He further explained that, for Education International and its affiliates around the globe, “education must be made genuinely free, available and accessible to all”. This, he said, calls for adequate investment in education by allocating at least 6% of GDP or/and at least 20% of the national budget to education.

Education unions, in cooperation with other trade unions, such as rural workers or plantation workers’ unions, and trade union centres have a vital role to play in ensuring that governments are held accountable for the implementation of the measures to which they committed in the Durban Call to Action, Edwards added.

Education unions can use the Durban Call to Action in advocacy with the National Assembly/Parliament, the education community, parents and activists, and to raise awareness with union members.

The summary of the main points of relevance to Education International and its member organisations of the Durban Call to Action on the Elimination of Child Labour is available here.