|Action Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)|
|4. Alternatives to child labour|
Many experimental programmes have been undertaken in the education and socio-economic fields in recent years to prevent child labour, withdraw children from work and ensure that children and parents are provided with realistic and viable alternatives to child labour.
Education is one of the key solutions in the elimination of child labour. Children with no access to education have little alternative but to enter the labour market, often performing work that is dangerous and exploitative. Education and skills training help to prevent and reduce child labour, as:
· children with basic education and skills have better chances in the labour market; they are aware of their rights and are less likely to accept hazardous work and exploitative working conditions; and
· educational opportunities can wean working children from hazardous and exploitative work and help them find better alternatives.
The ILO and its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) has supported action research on many issues related to educational policies and programmes. It has also analysed the impact of action programmes with educational components on child labour, such as those providing non-formal education, (pre-) vocational training and other social support services for (former) working children, and promoting their enrolment in formal schools. There are many examples of effective educational programmes that are successful in preventing and eliminating child labour. The challenge is to mainstream such innovative initiatives into larger formal and/or non-formal education systems1.
1 For more information, see N. Haspels, F. de los Angeles-Bautista, P. Boonpala and C. Bose: Action against child labour: Strategies in education (Geneva, ILO-IPEC, forthcoming) and ILO-IPEC: Alternatives to child labour: A review of action programmes action a skills training component in Asia (Bangkok, 1998).
Improvements in education systems are not enough, however. First, children who have been traumatized by work need rehabilitation. Secondly, the worst child labour abuses take place among the most vulnerable socio-economic groups in society. These groups can seldom afford education, even if it is available, relevant and less costly. Their children are sent to work, because the children's contribution and earnings are essential for family survival. It is reasonable to assume that children will continue to be sent to work as long as their parents are not earning enough. Therefore, measures to improve education need to be part and parcel of integrated programmes for disadvantaged population groups, programmes which aim to empower the poor and abolish social discrimination by providing income-earning opportunities. These can be employment creation and poverty alleviation schemes, small enterprise development, minimum wage systems, credit systems and social safety nets for the most needy. The programmes should address both the need for income for adults and schooling for children at the design and implementation stages, so that they do not inadvertently encourage the employment of children along with or instead of the employment of adults.
Finally, given that the supply of child labour is so large, actions to provide alternatives to children need to be combined with intensive awareness-raising in workplaces, among employers, managers and young and adult workers, and in communities. Workplace and community child watch or monitoring systems need to be set up to ensure that new children do not enter the vacated jobs.
Prevention and removal programmes usually consist of three interrelated components:
· education and training to children, combined with rehabilitation services;
· information and the establishment of a workplace or community child-watch or monitoring system.
As the examples in this chapter show, initiatives have been taken by a wide range of partners in the public and the private spheres, reflecting the need for multisectoral, multidisciplinary action against child labour.
The primary focus of this chapter is on educational and rehabilitation services for children, with examples of the various types of measures for families; and on monitoring mechanisms to ensure that geographic areas and specific workplaces remain child labour free. Guiding principles for planning action programmes, based on IPEC experience, are presented in a series of checklists.