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Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Tuvalu began a review of national educationpolicy in 2002 in order to address concerns regarding the quality of educationin the country.[4450] UNDP provides technical assistance to strengthen the capacities of localgovernments in Tuvalu and involve youth in decision making,[4451]and implements basic education, non-formal education, and poverty strategyinitiatives in the Pacific region, including Tuvalu.[4452] UNICEF works with the Ministry of Health, other government agencies, and NGOsto address children’s health and youth development.[4453] ADB is providing financing for vocational training to address the low rates ofsecondary school enrollment in the country.[4454] The EU provides funds for education-related projects,[4455]and AusAID is funding an 8-year project to improve the management andadministration of the education system at the primary and secondary levels.[4456]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the ageof 15 in Tuvalu are unavailable. Reportedly, children are rarely employedoutside traditional subsistence farming and fishing.[4457]

Under Tuvalu’s Education for Life program,[4458]education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 years, and free until theage of 13.[4459] In 1998, the gross and net primary enrollment rates were both 100 percent.[4460] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Tuvalu. While enrollmentrates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflectchildren’s participation in school.[4461] Although Tuvalu has achieved almost universal primary education, secondaryenrollment rates are much lower.[4462]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Tuvalese law sets the minimum age of employment at 14 years,and a child must be 18 years old to sign a formal work contract.[4463] The law prohibits industrial labor or work on ships by children less than 15years of age.[4464] In addition, the Constitution and the Penal Code prohibit forced labor.[4465] The Penal Code criminalizes the procurement of a child less than 18 years ofage for prostitution.[4466] While the Penal Code does not specifically address trafficking in children, thekidnapping or abducting of children is prohibited.[4467] There is no information available on the enforcement of labor laws, but therewere no reports of trafficking in persons, including children during 2002.[4468]

The Government of Tuvalu is not a member of the ILO, and assuch has not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.[4469]

[4450]Dr. Alesana K. Seluka, Minister of Education and Sports and Minister of Health, statement at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, New York: May 10, 2002; available from See also Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Tuvalu: United Nations Development Assistance Framework, United Nations, Suva, Fiji, May 2002, 9; available from

[4451]Youth at the United Nations, Country Profiles on the Situation of Youth: Tuvalu, [online] [cited July 11, 2003]; available from

[4452]UNDP, Tuvalu, [previously online] [cited November 8, 2002]; available from [hard copy on file].

[4453]UNICEF, UNICEF's Programme of Assistance to Pacific Island Countries, [online] [cited July 11, 2003]; available from

[4454]ADB, Millenium Development Goals in the Pacific: Relevance and Progress, Manila, March 2003, 51-52; available from

[4455]Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Tuvalu: UN Development Assistance Framework, A 8.

[4456]Australian Agency for International Development, Country Brief Tuvalu,, [online] [cited July 11, 2003]; available from See also Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Tuvalu: UN Development Assistance Framework, A 11.

[4457]U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2002: Tuvalu, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6d; available from

[4458]Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Tuvalu: UN Development Assistance Framework, 9.

[4459]Primary education, which is free, is required for children ages 6 through 13. See UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports- Tuvalu, prepared by Department of Education, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000, Section 6.2; available from

[4460]More recent data on enrollment rates are not available. See UNESCO, Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment [CD-ROM], Paris, 2000.

[4461]For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[4462]ADB, Millenium Development Goals in the Pacific, 50-51.

[4463]U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2002: Tuvalu, Section 6d.


[4465]Constitution of Tuvalu, Article 17, (1978); available from See also Government of Tuvalu, Penal Code, (1978), Article 249 [cited August 15, 2002]; available from

[4466]Penal Code, Articles 136, 38-39.

[4467]Ibid., Articles 131-32, 241-42, 46-47.

[4468]U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2002: Tuvalu, Section 6f.

[4469]ILO, Alphabetical list of ILO member countries, [cited July 11, 2003]; available from