- Child Labour,
- Children with Special Needs
Education must be available and accessible without discrimination. School systems need to seek, find and integrate those who have been underserved, including the poor, girls, working children, children in emergencies, children with disabilites, ethnic minorities, and those with nomadic lifestyles. Children have a right to a quality education that will serve as the basis for lifelong learning. As well teachers need to supports those children in school for whom learning is difficult due to their background experiences, language, ethnicity, or inability.
Fahima, 7, an Afghan refugee girl, weaves carpets on a loom, work she shares with other family members in the Haji Camp neighbourhood of the city of Peshawar. She migrated to Pakistan with her parents and four brothers in late 1997, leaving two other brothers behind in Afghanistan. In response to a query on whether she would like to go to school, Fahima says, "No. I don't want to go to school. I must work."
Too often, discrimination and poverty keep girls out of the classroom. In many regions, there is a strong belief that sons should be educated because they will need to support parents and establish a household. A daughter, people think, will eventually marry and serve another family. When a poor family considers how much a girl can help with domestic chores and how little opportunity there will be for her to get a paying job even if she is educated, the returns rarely seem to justify the expense.
Even when girls do make it to school, they tend to drop out earlier than boys. They leave because of early marriage, pregnancy or work, or because they are harrassed, sometimes sexually, or they fear violence.
Evidence is overwhelming that when girls are educated, the benefits multiply. Educated women are likely to have smaller and healthier families, and better educated children. Educated girls educate nations. Most importantly, education is the right of every girl.
Six Things Teachers Can Do
to Encourage Girls Access to School
- Monitor attendance and collect information on children who are not in school (for an example see an interview on the CHILD Project).
- Mobilize key 'social actors' to encourage girls to attend school.
- Advocate with parents to protect and provide for all their children equally.
- Identify and support local solutions: e.g. Organise alternative schooling like homebased schooling where girls cannot attend formal schools.
- Improve the quality and relevance of school experiences for girls.
- Work in schools to develop flexible schedules and attendance rates if girls have a lot of other responsibilities.
(From: Girls at Work - Seven Myths about girls and work.
Related Online Resources
The International Labor Organisation (2000) estimates that approximately
246 million children aged 5 - 17 are in child labour. Child labour is the
single most important source of child exploitation and child abuse in the
world today. The problem is rooted in poverty, underdevelopment and
cultural norms, and is not amenable to quick-fix solutions. Child labour
deprives children of their childhood, denies them the chance to fully
benefit from education, and thus seriously undermines the possibility of a
What kind of work should children never do?
- Work that violates childrens fundamental rights as human beings.
- Work that is dangerous or threatening, that exhausts their strength, and damages their bodies.
- Work that harms their growing up or robs them of the precious period of time that is childhood.
- Work that prevents them from going to school and gaining basic skills and knowledge for their growth and future.
Certain forms of child labour put children in extreme danger and therefore
must be abolished as a matter of urgency. The goal, expressed in the ILO
Convention Goals 1 & 2, is the immediate elimination of the following worst
forms of child labour:
- Activities that are contrary to fundamental human rights, such as
bonded child labour, conditions of slavery; children in prostitution; the
use of children in drug trafficking or the production of pornography; or
forcible recruitment for armed conflict.
- Activities that expose children to particularly grave hazards to their
safety, health and psychosocial development, such as work with chemicals,
dangerous tools and machines, or involving heavy loads and complex tasks or
work in isolation.
How does work affect the development of a child?
Childhood provides us with important opportunities to learn from the world around us. We develop skills that enable us to become social beings and participate fully in family and community life. This early period of life is critical in determining our future existence. Child labourers miss out on much of this precious time. Their work gets in the way of childhood activities and becomes an obstacle to their physical, emotional and social development.
Education plays a very vital role in the prevention of child labour. If we are really committed to bringing education to every child, education should be free, compulsory, offering life skills, and with incentives for children from poor families.
Why do some children not attend school?
Though most countries have introduced free compulsory education, in reality
school is never altogether free of charge. Apart from direct school fees,
there are additional costs in going to school. Children need school bags to
carry their books, food to eat at lunchtime, and clothes to wear to school.
All this is a financial burden on a poor family. Parents sometimes simply
believe that work is more important compared with the poor quality of
education on offer.
Education systems rarely take into account the specific needs and requirements of working children. Such systems are very often inflexible and do not include measures that would enable child labourers to successfully make the transition from work to formal education.
What needs to be done?
Improving formal education to prevent child labour and attract/retain (ex-) children in school
- The quantity and quality of formal education systems should be strengthened in order to reach out to children at high risk of child labour, including girls, children of ethnic minority groups, migrants, minorities, and the rural and urban poor.
- Innovative non-formal education methods that target child labourers should be a part of education systems.
- Primary education should incorporate awareness-raising activities on the issues of child labour and the hazards of work.
Improving transitional education and training for (ex-) child workers
- The quality and structure of non-formal education received by child labourers should provide pathways for re-entering formal education and training.
- Transitional education should provide younger children with general education and pre-vocational skills training.
Related Online Resources
Resources and Activities for Teachers
- Discussion topics with your class
- A series of questions related to child labour and children's rights.
- Researching child labour
- A series of activities that prompt children to reflect on the topic
- Case Study
- Tackling the problem of child prostitution by mobilizing schools (Thailand)
- Child Labour
- A play performed by Gathunguru Primary School, in Kenya
Children with Special Education Needs
Teachers need to create inclusive classrooms. About 70% of children with disabilities can be successfully integrated into normal schools. Usually, special schooling facilities are needed only for the few children who have severe mental retardation or multiple disabilities.
|A girl plays a guitar as she sits with other children outside the UNICEF-assisted Nayon Kabataan Rehabilitation Centre for street children and victims of child labour and physical abuse in Manila, the capital. The girl on the right is a deaf-mute, who seems to also suffer from trauma or another mental disability. Because she is unable to describe her experience, it is unknown what has happened to her since she has been on her own.
What a teacher can do for children with disability
- Children with disabilities sometimes find it difficult to get to school. Try to organise transportation to school and make school accessible by ramps, and other resources which respond to specific needs.
- When a child with a disability first comes to your school, talk with the family member who is with the child. Find out what the child's disabilities are and what he or she can do despite the disability. Ask about any problems and difficulties that the child may have.
- When the child starts school, visit the parents from time to time to discuss with them what they are doing to facilitate the childs learning. Ask about their plans for the child's future. Find out how you can best work together with the family.
- Ask if the child takes any medicines and if these should be taken while the child is in school.
- You may find that you do not have enough time to give the child all the attention he or she needs. If this is so ask the school or the community to find a helper for you. The helper could give the children with disabilities the extra help needed during school hours.
Make sure that the children can see and hear you when you teach. To help them understand, write clearly on the blackboard so that they can read what you are saying. Also, let a child with a disability sit in the front of the classroom. Then the child will see and hear better.
- Find out if the child and the parents have problems about schooling. Ask if the family thinks that other school children are helpful to the child and whether the child gets on well at school.
What is a disability?
"You have seen that some people in your community have difficulties which other people do not have. For example, you have seen that some people have difficulty seeing. Some have difficulty hearing, speaking, learning, or moving around in the same way as others. Some people show strange behaviour, or have fits, or have no feeling in their hands and feet. Such difficulties are called disabilities
Every community has some people with disabilities. Seven to ten out of every 100 people are said to have a disability. You will find that some people with disabilities live in the same way as others in your community. But you will also find that because of their disabilities some people have problems. They have problems doing all the daily activities that other family and community members do. "
(WHO, 1989, Training the Community for People with Disabilities)
Preparing other children
You could encourage other children in the class to take responsibility for classmates with disabilities by pairing each child who has a disability with a child without disability. Ask the partner to help with practical things. For example, to get to where the child with disability wants to go, to get to the latrine, to eat, and so on. Ask the partner also to help the child with activities such as field trips or team games. Explain to the partners that they might sometimes need to protect a child with a disability from physical or verbal harm. To avoid this harm, prepare the parents and the other children well.
See below: "Ten messages about children with disabilities" which recommends preventing "negative stereotypical attitudes about children with disabilities by avoiding negative words".
- Tell the children in your school about different disabilities, especially about the disabilities that they may see in children at school. One way of doing this could be to ask an adult with a disability to come to the school and speak to the children.
- Explain to the children that disabilities are caused by diseases, accidents, or genes. For example, you can explain that an infection in the eye or ear can cause difficulty with seeing or hearing.
- To help children without a disability accept the children with disabilities, tell them stories describing what people with disabilities can do.
Related Online Resources
Resources for Teachers
- When Children with Disabilities go to School
- Q & A about developing School Skills
- How to Help a Child with Disabilities in the Classroom
- Advice for teachers
- Children who have difficulty seeing
- Detailed suggestions on teaching children with this disability