|A girl in Nepal earns money through
scavenging. Around 600 million children in developing countries are subsisting on less
than $1 a day.
“Education,” said the late Julius Nyerere, a former
schoolteacher and much loved first President of the United Republic of Tanzania, “is
not a way of escaping the countrys poverty. It is a way of fighting it.”
We know that more than 110 million children of school age in the
developing world are not in school and that most of them are labouring. We also know that
every year that a child attends school dramatically reduces the chance that he or she will
end up in economic servitude.
Education is every childs right; nothing
can compare or compete with it, and when it is of good quality
and relevant to childrens lives, it truly can fight poverty.
Education empowers by opening new possibilities and opportunities
for children to participate and contribute, to the fullest of
their abilities, unhampered by their class or gender.
The Convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour fully
recognizes the power of education, noting that the long-term solution to child
exploitation "lies in sustained economic growth leading to social progress, in
particular poverty alleviation and universal education."
The link between education and poverty alleviation is
especially important because the economic abyss between the rich and
the poor has widened over the past decade. Now, despite unprecedented global economic
expansion, more and more people are being isolated in ever deeper poverty. The assets of
the worlds three richest billionaires, for example, are more than the combined gross
national product of all of the 48 least developed countries and their 600 million people.
In contrast, the poorest one fifth of the worlds population shares only 1 per cent
of the worlds GNP.
In the fight against child labour and the exploitation of children,
education must go hand in hand with global measures to buffer poor nations through steps
such as fairer trade, more aid, deeper debt relief, better investment policies and more
stable commodity prices.