This year's International Labour Conference will also focus on global activities against child labour. On 9 June, the Conference Plenary will discuss the ILO's new Global Report on child labour, including a special event highlighting the progress made in eliminating child labour in countries like Brazil, Tanzania and Turkey. ILO Online reports from Turkey where the EU recently committed 5.3 million Euros to build national capacity for the eradication of the worst forms of child labour in line with ILO Convention No. 182.
ADANA, Turkey (ILO Online) - Kader is 8 years old. She has two brothers and two sisters. With her father being jobless and her mother almost blind, Kader used to work with her elder sisters and brothers in cotton picking to eke out a living for their family.
With the support of the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), Kader and her 12-year-old brother Selahattin registered with the social support centre established by the programme. Six weeks later, the IPEC project coordinator convinced the parents to enroll Kader and Selahattin in a primary boarding school.
At first, her mother would only let Kader's brother go to school: "Kader is my eyes, and I can't do anything without her," she said, but finally she made a sacrifice for the sake of her child.
Kader is one of thousands of children who have been withdrawn from work and enrolled in school since 1992 when Turkey became one of the original six countries undertaking direct action to combat child labour under the IPEC programme. Since then, more than 100 action programmes carried out over the last 12 years have reached approximately 50,000 children.
"Sixty per cent of these children have been withdrawn from work and placed in schools. The remaining 40 per cent have benefited from improved working conditions and health, nutrition and vocational training services. Furthermore, approximately 25,000 families have received counselling services and assistance. The objectives of the programme are coherent with national policies and objectives and reinforce existing national structures," explains Gülay Aslantepe, director of the ILO Ankara office.
Good practices in combating child labour
On 9 June, the Ministers of Labour of Brazil, Turkey and Tanzania, and the workers and employers organizations of these countries, will present their achievements and good practices in combating child labour at a round table discussion during the International Labour Conference in Geneva.
The round table is part of the plenary discussion that day on the recent ILO Global Report on child labour and worldwide activities related to World Day Against Child Labour, under the theme: "The end of child labour: Together we can do it". The event will allow participants to share initiatives, models and practices that have worked and to discuss future strategies.
Since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Tanzania and the ILO in 1994, the launching of its IPEC country programme in 1995 and the start of the first-ever time-bound programme on child labour in 2006, Tanzania has registered significant achievements on the policy front in addressing the problem of child labour. To date, some 40 IPEC-sponsored projects have withdrawn thousands of children from work and provided them with education.
Turkey and Brazil joined IPEC in 1992 as two of the original six participating countries. In Brazil, the next decade saw impressive developments, as the country reached a threshold in the fight against child labour. In 2004, a total of 248,594 children were working, compared to 636,248 in 1992.
In Turkey, two national child labour surveys were conducted in 1994 and in 1999, respectively. A comparison of the results of the surveys showed that the number of economically active children in Turkey dropped from 974,000 to 511,000. The country is planning to have a third National Child Labour Survey in 2006.
In March of this year, the ILO launched with USDOL funding a project of support to the Government's time-bound programme aimed at the eradication of the worst forms of child labour in Turkey by 2015. The programme focuses on enhancing the capacity of the Child Labour Unit (CLU) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS) to deal with the issue.
Under the project, ILO experts will work in close cooperation with their counterparts in the CLU in seven provinces to combat child labour, launch awareness-raising activities and prevent the employment of children at risk.
The "Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Turkey" project is the first in the country targeting child labour with a direct financial contribution from the European Commission. Last April, the Commission committed 5.3 million Euros to build national capacity in Turkey for the eradication of the worst forms of child labour. The project was officially launched at a ceremony held in Ankara on 5 April 2006.
The project foresees the establishment of Provincial Programme Coordination Offices (PPCOs) in seven provinces which will function as social support centres. Among the 21 staff members there will be one coordinator and two social workers in each PPCO in charge of conducting relevant activities for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in that province.
"The prospect for success in child labour programmes in countries like Brazil, Tanzania and Turkey is encouraging. There is a strong commitment at the highest political and administrative levels and they serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour," concludes Guy Thijs, director of IPEC.