> Empowering Children Through Education: Ending Child Labour on World Day Against Child Labour 2023
12th of June
In a world where every child deserves a childhood filled with learning and opportunities, the persistence of child labour is a grave injustice. On June 12th, we come together to observe World Day Against Child Labour, focusing on the theme of ‘Social Justice for All. End child labour!
Child labour is a widespread problem that impacts millions of children worldwide, often robbing them of their childhoods and potential. Despite progress made since 2000, the recent global challenges of conflicts, crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed more families into poverty, leading to an alarming increase in child labour. Today, a staggering 160 million children are still engaged in child labour worldwide—equivalent to almost one in ten children globally. Africa ranks highest in both the percentage and absolute number of children in child labour, with one-fifth of all children affected, accounting for 72 million children. Asia and the Pacific follow closely, with 7% and 62 million children affected, respectively.
Social justice and child labour are directly linked, as child labour perpetuates a cycle of poverty, inequality, and social injustice. By depriving children of their right to education, we deny them the chance to break free from the chains of exploitation. This World Day Against Child Labour, we call for strengthened international action to achieve social justice. We envision a Global Coalition for Social Justice, where child labour elimination is a vital component. It is crucial to recognise that social justice cannot be achieved without addressing child labour and ensuring access to quality education for all children.
Education acts as a powerful antidote to child labour. When children are provided with quality education, they acquire the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to build a brighter future. It empowers them to break free from the clutches of poverty, offering alternative paths to success. Education equips children with critical thinking abilities, enabling them to recognise their rights, stand up against exploitation, and make informed choices for their own well-being.
To effectively combat child labour, we must advocate for the universal ratification of key International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. While the ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour was achieved in 2020, we should now seek the universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age. Together, these conventions provide legal protection to all children, safeguarding them from all forms of child labour. By encouraging governments to ratify these conventions, we take a significant step towards ensuring that every child is shielded from exploitation.
To address the root causes of child labour, we must prioritise educational provisions for children. Investing in educational infrastructure, teacher training, and inclusive learning environments is essential. By ensuring access to quality education, we create an environment where children are encouraged to learn, dream, and aspire for a better future. Educational provisions help break the cycle of poverty by offering families hope and alternative means of income generation that do not involve child labour.
As an international educational-focused charity, we are committed to empowering children from disadvantaged communities worldwide through education. To date, READ Foundation has educated 190,000 children, including over 10,000 refugee children. At present, READ Foundation operates over 400 schools, employs almost 6,000 teachers, and educates 115,000 children, including 13,000 orphans.
As we commemorate World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, 2023, we must recognise the pivotal role of education in ending child labour. By prioritising educational provisions, supporting the ratification of ILO conventions, and advocating for social justice, we take crucial steps towards a world free from child labour.