Education is recognized as one of the key solutions to the elimination of child labour. An IPEC project, launched in 1995, identified the best practices worldwide on promoting education as a major strategy in the elimination of child labour and on how to further mobilize teachers, educators and their organizations.
There is an overwhelming consensus on the right to education as a basic human right and as the only viable alternative to labour. IPEC Action Programmes involving education are numerous. Model projects are being run in:
- Bangladesh and Pakistan, where special education programmes, conducted in association with UNICEF, are helping stream former child workers into mainstream education. In Bangladesh, over 10,000 children working in the garment industry have received formal and non-formal education, while in Pakistan, over 6,000 children in the football stitching industry have attended non-formal education centres.
- Central America, in the coffee industry, the model used in Bangladesh is being replicated to provide education to children of coffee picking families
- Thailand, to prevent child trafficking and prostitution through the award of scholarships. The Ministry of Education’s Sema Life Development Project has provided 145,000 scholarships to girls at risk of being recruited into prostitution between 1994 and the present.
- India, where a major project removes children from bondage and streams them into the formal education system. Since its inception, the MV Foundation’s Camp-Based Bridge Course has allowed 15,000 working children in the state of Andhra Pradesh to go to school
- Kenya, where an Education and Training project, which ran until 1999, aimed to mobilize education and training stakeholders, particularly teachers’ unions, to institute interventions aimed at creating awareness by sensitizing parents and teachers, communities and society with regard to the rights of the child and especially the right to basic education and protection from economic exploitation; and strengthening formal and transitional education/training systems. One of the prinipal outcomes has been a pronounced increase in school enrolment.
IPEC strategy is based on the development of holistic education and training programmes which:
- incorporate awareness-raising activities on child labour and children’s rights to education
- provide or expand early childhood development programmes to create a demand for further education
- increase access to public primary and secondary education and strengthen the quantity and quality of formal and non-formal education streams
- mainstream innovative education methods to allow access to the formal education system
- improve the quality and structure of transitional non-formal education and ensure linkages and mainstreaming into formal education or training through integrated general education packages and skills and vocational training
- provide quality teacher training through national plans and policies