Journalists have a key role to play in the collective effort to eliminate child labour

Through the Accel Africa Reporting on child labour in Africa course, learners are introduced to a number of different issues, including international labour standards, ethical reporting of child-related information, or collecting testimonies from vulnerable sources of information. They also learn about the relevant context of child labour in agricultural supply chains, such as in the tobacco, cotton or cocoa industries.

Article | 04 June 2021
2021 is a crucial year in the fight against child labour and has been declared International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour by the United Nations. It comes just after the universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and in a period of global uncertainty as we confront the shockwave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we coalesce in local, regional and global alliances, it is important to acknowledge the important role that journalists can play to tackle the scourge of the child labour. Journalists can inform our societies on the prevalence of labour exploitation of children, expose economic wrongdoing and raise awareness on concrete steps that can be taken to prevent child labour or support survivors.

The ACCEL Africa project has well understood how media practitioners can actively participate in the global combat against child labour. Since the beginning of this year, the project is supporting – in collaboration with the International Training Center of the ILO – the training of journalists and communication experts in six countries: Egypt, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and Malawi. Alike everywhere in the world, media professionals from these countries can only count on their field experience and some peer-to-peer learning to develop their reporting skills on these issues. Child labour is absent from journalism education and specific training opportunities on the media coverage of child labour are scarce.

In the framework of this Reporting on child labour for Africa, learners are being introduced to a number of different issues including international labour standards, ethical reporting of child-related information or collecting testimonies from vulnerable sources of information. They are also getting acquainted with relevant context on child labour in agricultural supply chains, notably in the tobacco, cotton or cocoa industries.

Grace Khombe, a news editor at Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi, has been actively involved in the training: “I have really benefited from this training as I have learnt how to define what child labour is and what it is not. In addition, I am now aware that a child should always be the final person to grant a consent when reporting issues concerning his or her life”.

While much of the training material has been developed specifically for the occasion, important parts have been adapted from the ILO media toolkit for journalists: Reporting on forced labour and fair recruitment. Using this toolkit, journalists can hear from their peers on how they deal with very concrete challenges they face when reporting on labour exploitation.

When this toolkit was launched in July 2020, Anousheh Karvar, the chair of Alliance 8.7 – the global coalition to eradicate forced labour and child labour – had stressed the role of the media: “the ILO’s work with media partners, journalism schools and national entities, with a view to develop networks of specialized journalists and foster a sustainable strategy for training journalists on these issues is of crucial importance”.

As we approach the World Day Against Child Labour and the International Day of the African Child – respectively on 12 and 16 June – we are starting to see some of the first news reports come out of the ACCEL journalism training program. We hope that they will lead the way to a more consistent effort of journalists around the world to bring quality information on this important topic and help make 2021 a successful milestone in the journey towards the eradication of child labour.

Charles Autheman

''It is important to recognise the important role that journalists can play in tackling the scourge of child labour''
Mr. Charles Autheman is an independent consultant. He has been organizing and facilitating training workshops for journalists, trade unionists and communication professionals for the past decade. These activities cover a variety of labour-related issues-labour migration, fair recruitment, forced labour, child labour- and have taken place in over 20 countries, mostly in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Charles coordinated the production of the first media-friendly glossary on migration and the ILO media toolkit on forced labour and fair
recruitment.