About the event
The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of children forced to work. Observed on 12 June, the Day is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour and provides and opportunity to gain support from governments, civil society, schools, youth and women's groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.
According to the UN Child labour remains a significant issue, with approximately 72 million working children denied education, safe working conditions and fair pay. In some of the least developed countries, it is estimated that up to one in four children are working in conditions detrimental to their health and development.
If you would like some ideas to help your school mark World Day Against Child Labour you could read through our article about the issue, which provides an introduction to some of the issues.
How to approach it
This is a good opportunity to introduce children to the world of work, the global economy and human rights. As an introduction, you could use the Working Class Movement Library’s ‘Victorian Children at Work’ pack (below) which shows how child labour was a widespread problem in the UK before major reforms took place. Providing mass education and banning the employment of children allowed for greater social mobility, less child mortality and generally improved wellbeing among British children. Here, use activities that encourage empathy and allow children to put themselves in the shoes of child labourers past and present. Ask them, how do you think it would feel? What are some things you wouldn’t be able to do?
Next, bring this discussion into the modern day with an understanding of where child labour is primarily occuring and how we are connected to it. Show that Africa and Asia have the majority of the world’s working children with the highest levels surprisingly in middle-income countries as opposed to the poorest. Give examples of what children may be working in such as factories, farms, mines and even as soldiers. At this point, show that much of our food, technology and resources comes from other places and may very well have involved the labour of children. There are some great resources below that helps students to contextualise where our food and clothes come from and who produces them.
Finally, focus discussion on how we can solve this problem. The UK is a good case study for how, with public pressure and laws passed by governments, massive changes can be made. You could introduce students to the concept of international human rights, and how children are protected from work that may harm them or their education. Alternatively, you could explore initiatives such as fairtrade that try to reduce the impact that our own consumers have on encouraging cheap labour in developing countries.
Less than a hundred years ago children in the UK were sent to work in horrible factories and mines. Now, it's illegal for children under 14 to go to work. Yet, in other countries around the world, children are still forced to work in bad conditions. How are children's lives better if they don't have to work?