By Samuel Malik
Millions of children around the world are breadwinners, with some as young as five years old, the International Labour Organisation, ILO, has said.
Guy Ryder, ILO’s Director-General, said in a statement to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, that the dream and wish of parents to see that their children get good education is at a risk of remaining unfulfilled for a number of reasons, including crises and children dropping out of school because they cannot combine school and work.
“As things stand, the aspirations of many parents for their children and of children themselves for a decent education will remain unfulfilled dreams. Many girls and boys have no chance to attend school. Some try to combine school and work, but all too often must drop out of school well before reaching the legal age of employment and become child labourers,” Ryder said.
Key to ending the scourge of child labour, the ILO chief said, is education, something that was made even more significant with the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, the anti-child labour and girl-child education campaigners.
“Without adequate education, former child labourers are more likely than others to end up in poorly paid and insecure work as adults or to be unemployed. And there is a high probability that they will live in poverty and that their children will share the same fate.
“A collective challenge and responsibility is to enable all children, girls and boys, to have access to education, quality education. Second-class education perpetuates second-class citizens. We all know that a solid education and good teachers can make a world of difference to the lives and futures of children and young people,” Ryder added.
According to the United Nations, out of the over 60 million children out of school, Nigeria accounts for over 10 million, one of the highest in the world. In Nigeria, it is not unusual to see children very young engaged in one form of labour of the other.
Ryder said ILO is determined to play a part in putting an end to child labour as well as ensuring that children get access to education. “We remain committed to working nationally, internationally and with the multilateral system to ensure children’s right to education and freedom from child labour as well as its corollary,” he stated.