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ILO: 'Child labour prevents development'

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posted on Feb, 5 2004 @ 04:11 PM
ILO: 'Child labour prevents development'

Educating children, rather than forcing them to work, could yield enormous economic benefits for developing nations, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Paying for a child's education could bring a sevenfold return on the investment, in addition to social and other benefits that make this a preferred option to child labour, the ILO said.

Sweat shops, and what not, child labour though needs to be prevented is a means to feed countless families in 3rd world countries.

The money these children bring home helps put food on the table.

The complex issue of child labour is a developmental issue worth investigating. The notion that children are being exploited and forced into labour, while not receiving education crucial to development, concerns many people. India is the largest example of a nation plagued by the problem of child labour. Estimates cite figures of between 60 and 115 million working children in India -- the highest number in the world (Human Rights Watch 1996, 1).

What are the causes of child labour in India? How do governmental policies affect it? What role does education play in regard to child labour in India? A critical analysis of the answers to these questions may lead in the direction of a possible solution. These questions will be answered through an analysis of the problem of child labour as it is now, investigating how prevalent it is and what types of child labour exist. The necessity of child labour to poor families, and the role of poverty as a determinant will be examined. Governmental policies concerning child labour will be investigated. The current state of education in India will be examined and compared with other developing countries. Compulsory education policies and their relationship to child labour will be investigated using Sri Lanka and the Indian state of Kerala as examples of where these policies have worked. Finally, India’s policies concerning compulsory education will be assessed.


Child labor is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing countries. Africa and Asia together account for over 90 percent of total child employment. Child labor is especially prevalent in rural areas where the capacity to enforce minimum age requirements for schooling and work is lacking. Children work for a variety of reasons, the most important being poverty and the induced pressure upon them to escape from this plight. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in developing countries. Schooling problems also contribute to child labor, whether it be the inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality education which spurs parents to enter their children in more profitable pursuits. Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social roles in certain countries further limit educational attainment and increase child labor.

Working children are the objects of extreme exploitation in terms of toiling for long hours for minimal pay. Their work conditions are especially severe, often not providing the stimulation for proper physical and mental development. Many of these children endure lives of pure deprivation. However, there are problems with the intuitive solution of immediately abolishing child labor to prevent such abuse. First, there is no international agreement defining child labor, making it hard to isolate cases of abuse, let alone abolish them. Second, many children may have to work in order to attend school so abolishing child labor may only hinder their education. Any plan of abolishment depends on schooling. The state could help by making it worthwhile for a child to attend school, whether it be by providing students with nutritional supplements or increasing the quality and usefulness of obtaining an education. There must be an economic change in the condition of a struggling family to free a child from the responsibility of working. Family subsidies can help provide this support.

This analysis leads to certain implications for the international community. Further investigation into this subject is required before calls are made for banning child labor across the board. By establishing partnerships with humanitarian organizations, the international community can focus on immediately solving the remediable problems of working children.


[Edited on 5-2-2004 by ZeroDeep]

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