Cape Times

Goal on child labour ‘fan­ci­ful’

- Society · Child Labour · Parenting · Family · United Nations · University of Science and Technology of China · Norwegian University of Science and Technology

A GOAL to stamp out child labour by 2025 is out of touch with global re­al­i­ties and could push many work­ing chil­dren into worse poverty and marginal­i­sa­tion, a group of aca­demics said this week as they called for more re­al­is­tic tar­gets.

The UN launched the In­ter­na­tional Year for the Elim­i­na­tion of Child Labour last week, say­ing ur­gent ac­tion was needed to meet the goal as Covid-19 puts more chil­dren at risk of un­der­age work. “Re­mov­ing them from work is no help if this drives them deeper into the famine and bro­ken lives that the work was un­der­taken to mit­i­gate,” said an open let­ter signed by 101 pro­fes­sors and re­searchers and pub­lished by Open Democ­racy.

In­stead of bas­ing anti-child labour tar­gets on “emo­tional and ide­o­log­i­cal con­vic­tions”, the aca­demics said poli­cies should con­sider the var­ied ex­pe­ri­ences and cop­ing mech­a­nisms of work­ing chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, as well as sci­en­tific re­search.

“The cur­rent global ef­fort to erad­i­cate child labour is based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of the ideal of white, Western, mid­dle-class child­hoods,” said one of the sig­na­to­ries, Tatek Abebe, pro­fes­sor of child­hood stud­ies at the Nor­we­gian Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy. “… the re­al­ity of chil­dren’s lives in most parts of the world is not labourfree.”

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