On the World Day Against Child Labour, Education International launches a report documenting best practices identified in its projects against child labour. With Covid-19 set to increase the number of child labourers, these lessons are essential to future efforts to ensure all children are in school, not in work.
Together with its member organisations and project partners, Education International has been developing and implementing projects against child labour at the community level for several years. The latest projects have focused on vulnerable communities in 13 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
The results have been outstanding: decreased school dropout rates, increased enrolments, a growing awareness among community members of the negative impact of child labour and the essential role of education for children’s future.
The best practices identified during these projects have been collected in one publication launched today, on the World Day Against Child Labour. Transnational Best Practices and Union Impacts features findings from six project countries: Albania, Mali, Morocco, Nicaragua, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The report identifies the elements that were key to the success of the projects:
1. Professional development for teachers
The projects featured tailor-made professional development courses for teachers and school heads. Participants received training on child-centred pedagogy, active learning techniques, children’s rights, and definitions of child labour. Gender aspects were central to the training, with a specific focus on the girl child. Education unions provided resource manuals and developed new national teacher training curricula to include information on child labour, relevant national legislation, pedagogical training modules and information on active learning techniques.
During the training, participants also discussed how to set up school-monitoring structures supported by union coordinators at district and national levels.
After the trainings, teachers reported feeling better equipped and ready to act as multipliers and change agents in their schools. Teachers also developed a new sense of confidence and a clear mission that empowered them to rally the entire community to the cause of eradicating child labour.
2. Creating a school environment conducive to learning
In schools, teachers succeeded in creating a caring and safe environment that encouraged student participation. Corporal punishment was abandoned in favour of listening and engaging with students, a change that teachers also promoted among parents. School absenteeism began to be closely monitored, and absences now trigger further investigation by teachers.
Another important element of the projects was increasing communication with parents. Home visits by teachers have proven very effective in changing attitudes on the importance of education.
3. Incorporation of gender perspectives
The projects featured a special focus on the girl child and how to overcome the obstacles girls face in staying in school, especially after puberty. Gender awareness was mainstreamed into the projects, with teachers working to eliminate barriers by ensuring safe routes to school, providing separate washrooms for girls, countering the practice of early marriages and the incidence of teenage pregnancy, among others.
4. Sustainability in the long term
Sustainability was built into the projects in order to ensure a positive impact beyond the project period. The outcomes have been very encouraging. Project activities have continued in the schools, with teachers sharing their knowledge with colleagues and the wider community. Monitoring and assessment systems have also continued to operate.
One innovative aspect is the formation of multi-stakeholder committees tasked with ending child labour. Established at the local, regional, or national levels, these committees include a wide cross-section of local authorities and institutions and have an important advocacy role on issues of quality education and the rights of the child. Their activities continue even after the end of the project.
Growing support for education unions
In the schools where the projects were implemented, the education unions leading the work saw a marked increase in membership as teachers demonstrated their solidarity and commitment to advancing quality inclusive education. Union members also became much more engaged in their unions.
In addition, union capacity for advocacy and social dialogue has grown considerably thanks to the multi-stakeholder approach the projects introduced.
Unwavering union commitment to the fight against child labour
In a video message marking the World Day Against Child Labour, David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, stated: “For many years, education unions have been fighting against school dropout and child labour with outstanding results. This World Day Against Child Labour, we must take all the lessons we have learned in the fight so far and redouble our efforts. We must not allow vulnerable children to forgo their education and slip into a life of hardship. In our classrooms, in our unions and in the highest fora of power, let’s mobilise to end child labour and make education for all a reality.”
Watch the full video message below.