Finding Solutions

Eliminate PovertyDSCF4575

International financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund contributed to the rise in child labour when they called on countries heavily indebted to them to reduce public expenditure on health care and new jobs. These structural adjustment programmes have resulted in increased poverty and child labour. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should rethink their loan plans to developing countries in an effort to increase social expenditure rather than reduce it.

Government organizations and industries should be pressured to act in a socially responsible manner and to put an end to child labour or to provide children with better working conditions. Boycotting is not the solution because it forces children, who otherwise have no specific training, to quit their jobs and return to the streets or to more dangerous activities.

Encourage Education

Children need to learn how to read and write. They need social and professional skills that only school and a nurturing environment can provide.

Some countries have compulsory schooling and some provide free public schooling. However, in many countries, particularly for those where structural adjustment lending has led to the privatization of schools-the cost of teaching, books, and uniforms makes it impossible for children to get an education. Furthermore, for education to become a solution to child labour, schools must be located close to where these children live.

Education must be free and compulsory up until the minimum legal age for employment.

Enforce Labour Laws

Most countries have laws against child labour; however, some governments support child labour (regardless of existing laws) as a way of gaining a competitive market advantage.

Rehabilitate and Protect Working Children
(Encourage NGO participation)

Preventing children from working is not necessarily the best solution; children may end up in worse situations and their families may become even poorer.

Some NGOs fight to protect working children by providing them with information on their rights or by guaranteeing them safer working conditions. Other NGOs help children in the transition from work to school by building centres where they are provided with healthcare and a tailored education. The children leave these centres only when they have learnt to be independent.

Abolish Child Trafficking

Everywhere in the world, there are adults who earn a living by buying and selling children. The governments of all countries must take harsh measures against child trafficking.

Promote Fair Trade

There is a worldwide rise in commercial agreements-which must include norms for guaranteeing basic human rights and respect. Implementing these fair trade norms helps prevent child labour.

The new labelling campaigns-like Rugmark or the equitable commerce label-guarantee that the products consumers buy are not manufactured by children and that fair commercial practices have been employed. The label also reminds companies that young consumers should also be aware of commercial practices.

Fair trade practices guarantee a fair price to small-scale producers. In 44 developing countries, fair trade helps keep 550 co-operatives in business. These co-operatives consequently provide goods to 5 million people and often reinvest profits in the community, where the money is used to build schools, medical clinics, wells, etc.

Replace Child Workers by Adult Workers

There are 800 million unemployed adults in the world; and yet, the number of working children is estimated to be at over 300 million.

Replacing these working children with their mostly unemployed parents would result in higher family incomes (since adults are generally paid better), and the resulting rise in production costs would have little impact on exports sales.