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Child Labor & Educational Disadvantage – Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity

Child Labor & Educational Disadvantage – Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity

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Published by N R Dewi Nurmayani



Foreword

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education




All of us were children once. And as parents we

want our children to grow up in a world that provides them with security, joy, and a chance to develop their potential. The idea that children should be forced into exploitative or dangerous employment or into activities that compromise their safety, their security and their dreams is one that most of us would view with horror.

That is why the evidence set out in this report on child labor is both a shocking indictment of the world we live in and a call to action. Child labor is the new slavery of our age.




The indictment is partially captured in the headline numbers. There are 215 million children aged 5-17 years old involved in child labor. Over half of these children are under the age of 15. Some 91 million are under 12. Bluntly stated, all of them have a right to expect something better of us. Wherever they live, children have a claim on our care – and the

international community has a responsibility to protect their right to a childhood. Yet efforts to

combat child labor are failing in the face of inertia, indifference and an indefensible willingness on the part of too many governments, international agencies, and aid donors to turn a blind eye.



Statistics alone can never capture the suffering, the fear and the loss of human potential that comes with child labor. Reading this report called to my mind a poem written in 1843 by Elizabeth Barret Browning:




“Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,Ere the sorrow comes with years….

They are weeping in the playtime of the others

In the country of the free…“How long”, they say, “how long, O cruel nation,Will you stand, to move the world, on a child’s heart?”




That poem, The Cry of the Children, was a visceral reaction to the exploitation of children in the factories, workshops and mines that fuelled the industrial revolution. Browning saw the evidence produced by reports investigating the conditions facing children in the workplace, and she used her art to break through public indifferences, galvanize action, and support the social reformers working for change.




Yet even the hardened social reformers in Britain of the 1840s would have been shocked by the conditions facing children today in the world’s poorest countries. In West Africa, children as young as 12 are working in narrow tunnels down the shifts of artisanal gold mines. In India, children are trafficked and traded as bonded laborers to work in agriculture, manufacture and domestic services. In Bolivia, young children are working long hours with machetes to cut sugar cane on commercial farming estates. Meanwhile, an untold number are trapped in the worst forms of child labor, including child prostitution and forced recruitment into armed groups.








As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Global Education I was particularly concerned

to investigate the impact of child labor on opportunities for education. Working with the Centre for Understanding Child Work in Rome, we looked in some detail at the available evidence. Incomplete and partial as the data may be, the results point in what



Foreword

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education




All of us were children once. And as parents we

want our children to grow up in a world that provides them with security, joy, and a chance to develop their potential. The idea that children should be forced into exploitative or dangerous employment or into activities that compromise their safety, their security and their dreams is one that most of us would view with horror.

That is why the evidence set out in this report on child labor is both a shocking indictment of the world we live in and a call to action. Child labor is the new slavery of our age.




The indictment is partially captured in the headline numbers. There are 215 million children aged 5-17 years old involved in child labor. Over half of these children are under the age of 15. Some 91 million are under 12. Bluntly stated, all of them have a right to expect something better of us. Wherever they live, children have a claim on our care – and the

international community has a responsibility to protect their right to a childhood. Yet efforts to

combat child labor are failing in the face of inertia, indifference and an indefensible willingness on the part of too many governments, international agencies, and aid donors to turn a blind eye.



Statistics alone can never capture the suffering, the fear and the loss of human potential that comes with child labor. Reading this report called to my mind a poem written in 1843 by Elizabeth Barret Browning:




“Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,Ere the sorrow comes with years….

They are weeping in the playtime of the others

In the country of the free…“How long”, they say, “how long, O cruel nation,Will you stand, to move the world, on a child’s heart?”




That poem, The Cry of the Children, was a visceral reaction to the exploitation of children in the factories, workshops and mines that fuelled the industrial revolution. Browning saw the evidence produced by reports investigating the conditions facing children in the workplace, and she used her art to break through public indifferences, galvanize action, and support the social reformers working for change.




Yet even the hardened social reformers in Britain of the 1840s would have been shocked by the conditions facing children today in the world’s poorest countries. In West Africa, children as young as 12 are working in narrow tunnels down the shifts of artisanal gold mines. In India, children are trafficked and traded as bonded laborers to work in agriculture, manufacture and domestic services. In Bolivia, young children are working long hours with machetes to cut sugar cane on commercial farming estates. Meanwhile, an untold number are trapped in the worst forms of child labor, including child prostitution and forced recruitment into armed groups.








As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Global Education I was particularly concerned

to investigate the impact of child labor on opportunities for education. Working with the Centre for Understanding Child Work in Rome, we looked in some detail at the available evidence. Incomplete and partial as the data may be, the results point in what

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Published by: N R Dewi Nurmayani on Dec 13, 2012
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05/14/2014

 
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