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November 8, 2017

Getting children Out of Work and into School

Combining bottom-up and top-down strategies to stop child labour

In the run-up to the IV Global Child Labour Conference in Argentina from 14 to 16 November 2017, the Stop Child Labour Coalition(1) has published a position paper with a focus on combining bottom-up and top-down strategies to eradicate child labour. The paper states: ‘Simply removing children from the workplace is not enough, if we do not make sure the child is in school and enjoying all its rights. Any meaningful action against child labour therefore has to be part of efforts to rehabilitate the child and ensure that it goes to fulltime education.'

The paper describes the roles that local communities, civil society organisations and trade unions often play as initiators of these bottom-up approaches. A community-based approach has proven to be an effective method to get all children in a certain area out of work and (back) into school. This enables the creation of ‘child labour free zones’: a specific area (village, neighbourhood etc.) where all stakeholders – community-based organisations, teachers, parents, children, local authorities and companies – work together around the norm that ‘no child should work – every child must be in school’.

The paper furthermore describes how bottom-up approaches can help to give shape to more top-down policies and their implementation. Local, regional and national governments can realize sustainable change as it is their duty to ensure that basic systems and facilities are in place for all children to ensure their right to education The private sector, guided by e.g. the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, should tackle (child) labour issues in the full supply chain. International organizations can reinforce institutional policies to mainstream a community-based approach to tackle child labour, and promote joint efforts at all levels.

Based on experiences of Stop Child Labour, seven recommendations are given. They include: the need for comprehensive strategies to tackle all forms of child labour, long-term support for both community-based as well as governmental programmes, more explicit recognition and involvement of civil society in fighting child labour, the responsibility of companies for remediation of working children ánd implementing of other labour rights, promotion of child labour free and fair public procurement and the need for effective (implementation of) child labour, education and other laws.

Het position paper beschrijft de rol die lokale gemeenschappen, maatschappelijke organisaties en vakbonden vaak spelen als aanjagers van een bottom-up benadering om kinderarbeid uit te bannen. Een gebiedsgerichte aanpak blijkt een effectieve manier te zijn om alle kinderen in een bepaalde gebied uit het werk te krijgen en (terug) naar school te brengen. Met deze aanpak is het mogelijk om te komen tot ‘kinderarbeidvrije zones’. Een kinderarbeid vrije zone is een bepaald gebied (dorp, buurt, enz.) waar iedereen – lokale organisaties, lokale overheden, bedrijven, leraren, ouders en kinderen – samenwerkt vanuit de overtuiging dat geen kind hoort te werken en dat alle kinderen naar school moeten gaan.

Het position paper beschrijft verder hoe een bottom-up benadering helpt om vorm en uitvoering te geven aan top-down beleid. Lokale, regionale en nationale overheden kunnen duurzame verandering bewerkstelligen als ze hun verplichting nakomen om basisvoorzieningen te treffen die schoolgaan voor alle kinderen mogelijk maakt. De private sector, gedreven door bijvoorbeeld de ‘UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’, zou kinderarbeid in de volledige productieketen moeten aanpakken. Internationale organisaties kunnen zorgen voor institutioneel beleid met aandacht voor een gebiedsgerichte aanpak tegen kinderarbeid en aansturen op gezamenlijke inzet voor meer impact.

Find the full 8-page position paper here

Out of Work and into School: what we have accomplished

The programme ‘Out of Work and into School’, initiated by the Stop Child Labour Coalition, which ran from May 2014 to April 2017 on four continents, has had remarkable results. To a large extent, this is due to a relatively new pathway towards the ultimate goal of pulling children out of workplaces and getting them into classrooms. This inspiring pathway, called Child Labour Free Zones, is a sensitive, all-inclusive, area-based approach, encompassing not only the entire community of an area but also local organisations and authorities, companies, CSR initiatives, and local NGO’s. In this approach, cooperation with local partner organisations is essential.

Read the overview of key results and best practices here

(1)The Stop Child Labour Coalition is a coalition of six Dutch NGOs and trade unions, working closely together with local organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Landelijke India Werkgroep - November 8, 2017