The Syndicat National de l’Education et de la Culture UNTM (SNEC-UNTM), EI’s affiliate in Mali, organised a very successful national workshop on combating child labour from 14 to 26 April in Bamako.
The workshop was attended by 30 participants, teachers from the South, but also by teachers from North who moved to the South because of the conflict in the country. The return to normalcy is slow and fragile in the freed Mali, as well as in schools, which reopen only very gradually in the North, with the teachers and students remained in this region.
At the workshop, participants learned about child labour in Mali, and explored ways of contributing to its elimination. The attendees also looked at international programmes and projects in this area and discussed ways of using EI educational material in the fight against child labour in Mali.
As well as discussing activities in Mali for the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June, the participants also looked at child labour trends, national legislation and policies in this area, the role of education in combating child labour, and the work of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). One Hour Against Child Labour, an EI campaign, was also discussed.
Three million Malian children under 17 actively employed
At the workshop, Bonaventure Maiga from the National Education Ministry said his ministry considered the SNEC an intelligent union, which set out its demands vigorously and rigorously, while always being prepared to negotiate and to contribute to solving the problems in the education sector.
Fatou Keita, the representative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)/IPEC in Mali, highlighted the fact that about three million children under the age of 17 in Mali are in active employment. The ILO considers this a real tragedy and a national emergency.
The participants also adopted a three-year action plan on combating child labour.
“The elimination of child labour is a matter of concern for teachers’ unions throughout the world,” said EI’s coordinator for the African region and the organiser of the workshop, Samuel Ngoua Ngou. “There are some EI resolutions that call for the elimination of child labour, in particular by promoting free, compulsory, quality education for all, and through education systems financed and regulated by the public authorities.”
He added that giving children access to free, compulsory and quality public education, and giving adults access to decent work, were the only ways of breaking the vicious circle of poverty, because ignorance is the barrier to freedom and dignity.
EI has begun a new two-year partnership with ILO-IPEC, said Ngoua Ngou. The main objective of the programme resulting from this partnership is to encourage EI member organisations to take part in programmes on the prevention of child labour and the promotion of educational opportunities for all children.
In view of the above, it was decided that the EI/ILO-IPEC programme on child labour would support the EI affiliates in Mali, with a view to organising a national workshop on child labour.
EI members are strongly encouraged to undertake action in the run-up to the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June, aimed at raising awareness among their members and the public at large about this scourge.
A national workshop on child labour was also organised by affiliates in Ivory Coast from 15-17 April.