Education International
Education International

Towards a Pan-European/Maghreb structure to fight child labour

published 1 October 2008 updated 1 October 2008

EI and other member organisations of the Global March Against Child Labour met in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 16-18 September for a Pan-Europe and Maghreb regional conference. The Global March Against Child Labour is the most highly-recognised global alliance which campaigns against child labour and for universal education. EI sits on its International Council.

One year after a previous conference in Sofia and several consultations, the aim of this year’s conference was to support a stronger regional alliance between NGOs and trade unions in the Pan-European and Magreb regions that can deliver a reinvigorated programme of work to fight child labour. The Minister of Labour from Bulgaria and officials from education and social welfare institutions in the country were also present at the meeting. Representatives of EI affiliates PODKREPA and NTUES from Bulgaria, and SPASh from Albania, and of the ILO and ITUC, were among the participants who agreed upon the establishment of a new GM Pan-European/Maghreb structure including all 51 states of the ILO’s European Region (EU and non-EU members; the Commonwealth of Independent States, Georgia and Turkmenistan; and Turkey) plus Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This new structure will allow the Global March to adapt to the new legal, constitutional, political and economic realities of Europe, and to coordinate more effectively across borders. The Pan-European Global March will also be able to take decisive action against the growing regional challenge of child trafficking and will support national and regional policy action to eliminate this problem. As the participants noted, there is an urgent need to work together to combat child trafficking from, into, across, within and outside these regions. It will encourage and strengthen the establishment of instruments and mechanisms supporting meaningful child participation at national and regional levels. In accord with the resolutions on child labour adopted at its World Congresses, EI supported this initiative. Donatella Montaldo, EI children’s rights coordinator, underlined during her opening speech the “importance of education to combat child labour, the relevance of teachers’ unions in this fight, and the need to link the child labour issue with the EFA initiative and to achieve inclusive education.”

For more information, see: http://www.globalmarch.org/events/Pan-European.php.

Another recent event related to child labour was the fifth meeting of the Global Task Force (GTF) on Child Labour and EFA, held in Paris, 15 September 2008

The meeting was attended by representatives of GTF members ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, EI Deputy General Secretary Janice Eastman, and the governments of Brazil and Norway. A representative of GTZ also participated.

On of the main items of discussion was the World Day Against Child Labour 2008, which focused on the importance of education. It was highlighted that the event had an increased number of participating countries and the cooperation between GTF members was improved at the international and national levels. Education unions in 18 countries carried out activities jointly with the ILO on the day. Members of the GTF welcomed the theme of the 2009 World Day, which will focus on child labour among girls.

Another issue discussed was the forthcoming UNESCO International Conference on Education, scheduled to take place in Geneva, in November 2008. It has as its theme “Inclusive Education: The Way of the Future.”

Given that child labourers represent a major group of the children excluded from education, it is important that consideration of inclusive education systems take account of the policies required to reach this group. The International Conference on Education provides an excellent opportunity to promote the need for inclusive education strategies to address child labour issues. Three representatives from EI will be participating in this important conference.