End child labour by 2020? Not on current form
Gordon Brown, now the UN special envoy on education, has just released a UN report calling for an end to child labour by 2020. Great stuff, but that would require a massive scaling up of current efforts to get some 215 million kids out of the fields, mines and factories and into schools. One of the key players that would have to lift its game the most is our Department for International Development.
We’ve just released our own report “A decent job?” assessing what DFID does to help achieve Decent Work in the developing world. On combatting child (and forced) labour, we gave them 2 out of 4 for a very patchy effort.
DFID currently funds a few small and short term projects run by NGOs and the International Labour Organisation. For example, it is currently funding the Global March against Child Labour in India to training 30 labour inspectors to identify and end child labour. (I’m told that the scheme these funds came out of is unlikely to be renewed beyond 2014). But compare that to the US government which since 1995, “…has funded more than 250 projects in 90 countries aimed at combating child labor and will provide $60 million for additional programs by the end of 2012”.
To be fair, DFID has supported 5.3 million children to go to primary school under the coalition goverment. And lack of access to schooling is a key indirect cause of child labour. But this is not a substitute for programmes directly targetted at ending child labour.
Today’s Guardian sums up the sheer scale of the problem:
Warning that “current trends are … of great concern” the UN says there will still be about 190 million child labourers in eight years’ time – a drop of just 25 million on today’s figures. Even worse is that in the poorest parts of the world, the UN says, the numbers will rise: child labourers in sub-Saharan Africa will jump by around 15 million over the next decade, reaching 65 million by 2020.
So will DFID radically scale up its handful of tiny projects enough to help meet this challenge?