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Five years to end child labour: education could be the solution

New research project will identify educational strategies to address child labour in India and Bangladesh
23 Mar 2020
Reshmi Prabhu (12) in a cotton field in Karnatarka, India. She previously worked in the fields before being enrolled in school for the first time this year. 


(21 April 2020) Despite substantial progress in reducing the number of children involved in child labour, there are still an estimated 10.8 million child labourers India and Bangladesh. Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 aims to end child labour by 2025. Urgent action is needed to achieve this. In response to this challenge, UNICEF Innocenti has begun a new four-year research project to identify effective educational strategies to address child labour in India and Bangladesh.


To kick-off the project, which is funded with UK aid from the UK government, an inception workshop was held in New Delhi (India) in November 2019. During the workshop, available evidence on child labour and education was discussed and research gaps were identified. Eleven technical experts on child labour and education from India and Bangladesh presented research to representatives from the ILO, World Bank, DFID, local NGOs, research institutes, and UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia and Country Offices (India and Bangladesh).

“Child labour continues to be a key indicator of how well the world is doing on child rights and in creating a strong foundation for child well-being and human development,” said UNICEF Innocenti’s Chief of Child Rights and Child Protection, Ramya Subrahmanian. “In the context of the current pandemic, prolonged school closures can significantly impact school dropout and child labour, and evidence and policy actions need to recognise and address this risk.  The inception workshop has helped us develop a platform for engagement with national experts and international partners on key priorities and questions in a dynamic and changing context.”

Patterns and trends in child labour and schooling

Kabir Uddin from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Ellina Samantroy from VV Giri National Labour Institute provided an overview of the most recent available national data on prevalence and trends in child work, schooling, and their intersections in India and Bangladesh.


Evidence gaps on child labour and schooling in Bangladesh

By examining issues of measurement and data availability on child labour and schooling, Zulfiqar Alli from the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and Mudit Kapoor from the Indian Statistical Institute identified evidence gaps and new hypotheses for research.


Worst form of child labour

AKM Masud Ali from INCIDIN in Bangladesh and Davuluri Venkateswarlu from Global Research in India reviewed the evidence on forms of child labour, such as slavery and trafficking, that are hidden and especially harmful for children.


Linking child labour, schooling, and marriage

Sajeda Amin from the Population Council and Renu Singh from Young Lives India scoped conceptual and empirical perspectives on the linkages between child labour, schooling, and marriage in Bangladesh and India.


Linkages between child labour, schooling, and migration

Nowreen Yasmin from Noakhali Science and Technology University and Renu Singh from Young Lives India presented the current evidence on the interlinkages between internal migration, child labour, and schooling in Bangladesh and India.


Education strategies

Jyotsna Jha from the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and Samir Ranjan Nath from BRAC Institute for Education and Development presented the evidence on how educational strategies, including vocational training and skills development, address child labour in India and Bangladesh.

Participants at the inception workshop held in New Delhi in November 2019.


Find out more about our research project exploring Child Labour and Education in India and Bangladesh. Discover our work on Child Labour.