With education, we can protect girls from exploitative work
UNICEF: Education is key to building a protective environment for girls and boys
KUALA LUMPUR, 12 June 2009 – Improving children’s access to quality education, particularly for girls in poor and rural settings is fundamental to protect them from being exploited for labour affirmed the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the tenth anniversary of the World Day against Child Labour.
“Education is central to providing children with the first steps towards obtaining Decent Work and a decent livelihood as an adult,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Mr. Youssouf Oomar.
He added, “investing in the improvement of girls’ access to education particularly helps in her personal development while supporting social progress and economic development in general.
At risk of violence and HIV
However, some 75 million children are still not enrolled in primary school, 55 per cent of who are girls. Costs of education, poor quality education, and lack of birth registration are some of the barriers that limit children’s chances for a better, safer future.
Girls face added challenges that include the safety of the journey to school, lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities as well as traditional thinking that places little value on a girl’s education. More often, it is also the girl who is withdrawn from school to look after the family when a parent falls ill or dies.
The most recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates suggests that as of 2006 there are 218 million child labourers worldwide, 100 million are girls. More than half, 53 million, are exploited in hazardous work that includes prostitution and pornography which expose them to violence, abuse and HIV infection.
Most child labour is rooted in poverty, often associated with multiple disadvantages. Socio-economic inequalities based on language, race, disability and rural-urban differences remain deeply entrenched. Girls can face particular disadvantages due to discrimination and practices which allocate certain forms of work to girls. The current global economic and financial crisis casts a grave shadow for children for its potentially significant negative impact on education and child labour.
Free, compulsory and quality education
The ILO Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), along with other ILO Conventions and Recommendations, provide an important legal framework for challenging child labour and ensuring that girls receive special attention. The CRC also upholds every child’s right to primary education.
“Free, compulsory and quality education, at least up to the minimum age of employment, for every single child is the most important policy step a government can take to tackle child labour,” Mr. Youssouf pointed out. “Reducing indirect cost for uniforms, books, transport, food is also an important means of removing burdens that may otherwise prevent poor families from sending their children to school.”
At school, boys and girls can be taught about their rights and how to protect themselves from child labour. At the same time, the education system can itself be a very useful means of helping to monitor child labour with teachers keeping an eye on children who are at risk of dropping out.
“Education is an important safety social net for children. When girls are included, it provides benefits to their future families, their communities and society at large,” Mr. Youssouf highlighted.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
About The World Day Against Child Labour
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
Malaysia and its Ratification of International Conventions
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram
Shiao Eek, Tee
World Day Against Child Labour 2009
Six Steps to Abolishing Primary School Fees