FY2001 to FY2006 appropriations for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) include $205 million to support international efforts to eliminate child labor through programs that will improve access to basic education in international areas with a high rate of abusive and exploitative child labor. This funding will be used to strengthen DOL's existing child labor elimination strategies and complement ongoing international and national efforts to reduce child labor by providing resources to get child laborers into school and keep them there.
The Education Initiative has four goals:
- Raise awareness of the importance of education for all children and mobilize a wide array of actors to improve and expand education infrastructures. The world community and individual nations have pledged to advance a movement aptly called Education for All
(EFA). In this spirit, it is important that child laborers, an often-neglected group, be included in EFA efforts. The Education Initiative will seek to raise awareness of the importance of including child laborers in educational plans and programs. It will also educate parents of the importance of sending their children to school rather than to work. But awareness is not sufficient without concrete commitment to improve and expand educational opportunities for child laborers. The Education Initiative will also seek to expand this commitment by mobilizing various actors including parents, community leaders, businesses, the media, the entertainment industry, religious groups, and civil society organizations to join in a partnership to improve schools and the school environment for all children, including children removed from child labor. In collaboration with their government these partners engage in actions such as school construction and upgrading, provision of educational materials and development of remedial and enrichment programs.
- Develop formal and transitional education systems that encourage working children and those at risk of working to attend school. Child laborers are children with special educational needs. Some have never attended school or have been there so infrequently that they are far behind their peers. Some encounter ostracism when they enter school. Some are so used to being in the work force that they have a difficult time adapting to the formal school environment. The Education Initiative will work to strengthen the capacity of transitional and formal education systems to support the academic performance and success of children removed from child labor, or at risk of entering it. It will work to adapt and develop quality curricula that meets the needs and life experience of these children. It will also work closely with school administrators, teachers, parents and communities to ensure that education is seen as relevant to the socioeconomic needs of the community.
- Strengthen national institutions and policies on education and child labor. Although many countries have institutions and policies on education and child labor, there may be gaps in the effective enforcement of child labor and compulsory education laws. The Education Initiative will work to strengthen national capacity for enforcement, and to track the academic progress and achievement of children removed from child labor, and those at risk of entering the labor force. Critical in this approach is improved capacity to monitor key education indicators for these children, and to have the monitoring data feed into education action policies and plans at the national and local level, and in the management and teaching at schools where these children attend.
- Ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts. The Education Initiative seeks sustainability at the financial, institutional and community/family levels. It supports programs that are country driven, rather than donor driven. In promoting country ownership, it encourages increasing use of host country resources in the financing, planning and implementation of education programs.
Join the listserv: ILAB maintains a listserv to inform interested parties about new developments on the Education Initiative. If you would like to be added to the listserv, please call the International Child Labor Program's main number at (202) 693-4843 and provide the contact name and the email address (or fax number if preferred) of the individual/organization to be added.