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Child labour and education in India and Bangladesh

Child labour and education in India and Bangladesh

The ILO estimated that India and Bangladesh are home to 10.7 million child laborers, about 65 per cent of the total number of working children in South Asia (based on national household surveys in 2011-2012 for India and 2005-2006 for Bangladesh).

A new research project, led by the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, aims to identify effective educational strategies to address child labour in these countries.We will review and synthesise the latest evidence on the interlinkages between education and child labour, and generate new evidence assessing the effectiveness of innovative educational interventions in reducing child labour.

Funded with UK aid from the UK government, this project is part of the broader FCDO Asia Regional Child Labour Programme, also involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Institute for Development Studies at Sussex (IDS) and the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA).

UNICEF Innocenti’s research will be conducted in collaboration with local researchers in India and Bangladesh, closely liaising with UNICEF country offices and with the other partners in the broader regional programme.

Publications

The Impact of Educational Policies and Programmes on Child Work and Child Labour in Low- and-Middle-Income Countries: A rapid evidence assessment (Study Protocol)
Publication

The Impact of Educational Policies and Programmes on Child Work and Child Labour in Low- and-Middle-Income Countries: A rapid evidence assessment (Study Protocol)

There is increasing evidence on the importance of education access and quality for the abolition of child labour. However, to date, only a few evidence assessments have documented the effectiveness of educational policies and programmes with respect to child labour. This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive review of the effects of educational policies and programmes on child labour. With the objective to provide policy and programmatic recommendations, the review will focus on quantitative and mixed methods studies that identify causal effects. The REA will be complemented by an evidence gap map.

News & Commentary

Eliminating child labour – greater engagement and collaboration needed
Article

Eliminating child labour – greater engagement and collaboration needed

By Anna Zongollowicz An estimated 160 million children are engaged in child labour globally. Bringing together more than 4,000 representatives from all sectors of global society including governments, trade unions, the private sector, civil society, regional and international organizations, think-tanks and academia, the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, coordinated by the United Nations, was held 15-20 May 2022 in Durban, South Africa. Youth and children were represented from across the globe at the Conference, with presentations and discussions ending with a call to action to urgently improve intersectoral and multi-institutional collaboration to end child labour. It was widely recognised that because child labour is a highly complex and multidimensional issue, it cannot be effectively addressed without integrated approaches. Two conference events highlighted promising paths towards the desired goal. UNICEF at the ConferenceSide Event 6 featured Dr Ramya Subrahmanian, Chief of Child Rights and Protection at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, who presented emerging insights from UNICEF Innocenti's FCDO-funded research project - part of a cross-institutional collaboration in South Asia that involves the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Institute for Development Studies at Sussex University (IDS) and the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA). The project aims to identify effective educational strategies to reduce child labour in India and Bangladesh (home to 10.7 million child labourers). Insights from the first phase of research reflect the complexity of the issue and the need for understanding how educational interventions have different impacts on child labour depending on their specific design features and the context in which they are implemented. Dr Subrahmanian emphasized that increasing the number of rigorous evaluation studies that identify the pathways and mechanisms through which education can reduce child labour needs to be a priority to strengthen the education sector's contribution to ending child labour.Side Event 20 featured an eminent panel including the CEO of the Centre for Child Rights and Business, the VP of Human Rights at L'Oreal, the Head of the International Labour Affairs division at the Labour Directorate of Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and UNICEF Representatives. It was organized by the Government of Switzerland and moderated by UNICEF Innocenti's Dr Subrahmanian. The panel discussed the role of the private sector in helping tackle the systemic causes of child labour. As child labour is the result of a broad range of factors (including socio-cultural, economic, legal and political), the business sector needs to act on a range of different fronts to address the issue, including social and child protection. Private sector involvementTraditionally, the private sector has focused on mitigating child labour through the application of due diligence mechanisms, such as codes of conduct and audits. These mechanisms however, have not been sufficient at preventing child labour, which usually occurs throughout the supply chain and which is often made up of a range of loosely connected entities, some or many of which may operate in the informal sector. Remediation is also rare. Currently, only 33 companies worldwide have a remedy system for rescued child labourers.The private sector can and must do more to prevent and mitigate child labour; from creating decent work for adults to providing more skills development opportunities to teenagers transitioning from secondary education into adulthood, and through providing employment insurance and income stability. In expanding their response, companies should look for multi-stakeholder solutions that are integrated with national systems, such as child labour monitoring or national child protection mechanisms, which make due diligence meaningful. Private-public partnerships are crucial for implementing proven solutions at scale. Neither the private nor public sectors should or can go it alone. Take legislation as an example: governments can pass laws and support voluntary measures for companies to perform due diligence, integrate their data systems with public ones that disclose their information, but companies will only apply these approaches correctly if they are fully committed to eliminating child labour throughout their value chains. Companies demonstrating such commitment and engaging in such partnerships will achieve sustainable benefits not only for themselves, but also for the whole economy, through increased wages and widely shared social and economic development. Finally, children's agency is a vital component in the fight against child labour. Children have an extraordinary capacity to produce complex analysis of their own situations. However, whilst it is important to be child-centred in research and action, Dr Subrahmanian pointed out the importance of recognising that children are often unable to resist exploitation, given power asymmetries with adults who may persuade or coerce them to work. Acknowledging children's rights requires collective action to ensure they are not placed in situations where they are compelled to bear the costs of early engagement with the world of work and labour.   For further information on UNICEF Innocenti’s work on child labour, click here. About the UNICEF Office of Research - InnocentiThe Office of Research - Innocenti is UNICEF's dedicated research centre. It undertakes research on emerging or current issues to inform the strategic directions, policies and programmes of UNICEF and its partners, shape global debates on child rights and development, and inform the global research and policy agenda for all children, and particularly for the most vulnerable. Visit our website and follow UNICEF Innocenti on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  
Five years to end child labour: education could be the solution
Article

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

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.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR NEW RESEARCH PROJECT EXPLORING THE LINKS BETWEEN CHILD LABOUR AND EDUCATIONTo 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 schoolingKabir 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.Patterns & trends in child labour & schooling & their intersections in Bangladesh from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Landscaping prevalence & trends in child labour & schooling and their intersections in India from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti  Evidence gaps on child labour and schooling in BangladeshBy 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.Scoping evidence gaps on patterns & trends in child labour & schooling & their intersections in Bangladesh from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Child Labour: Evidence gaps & new hypothesis for research in India from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti  Worst form of child labourAKM 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.The Forbidden Terrain of the Worst Form of Child Labour in Bangladesh from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Worst forms of child labour in India with a focus on rural sector from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti  Linking child labour, schooling, and marriageSajeda 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.Linking Child Labour, Schooling & Marriage: exploring critical intersections from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Scoping the linkages between child labour, schooling & marriage in India from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti  Linkages between child labour, schooling, and migrationNowreen 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.Scoping the linkages between internal migration, child labour & schooling in Bangladesh from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Scoping the linkages between internal migration, child labour & schooling in India from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti  Education strategiesJyotsna 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.Landscaping education strategies to address child labour in India from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Landscaping education strategies to address child labour in Bangladesh from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti 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.

Events

COVID-19 and Child Labour
Event

COVID-19 and Child Labour

As progress on child labour has stalled and absolute numbers of children engaged in child labour increase, Leading Minds Online asks the experts: How can we get progress back on track and prevent this worst-case scenario?