4.1 STRATEGIES IN EDUCATION
While education is the alternative to child labour, lack of access to education and poor-quality education can contribute to the problem of child labour, often because parents and children prefer work over schooling not only to gain income for the family, but also to learn skills for later life. A whole range of interventions in education is necessary to attract children to school, and to keep them there and out of work.
Investment in a country's human resources is crucial, not only for younger generations, but for socio-economic development as a whole. Therefore, renewed national commitment, policy reform and massive investment in basic education are vital to meet the challenge. A holistic approach to education is required. Children should be provided with access to quality education from early childhood onwards up to at least 15 years of age. In the long term, this will be the most durable solution. However, given that many countries are still far from providing quality education for all, immediate remedial measures are needed.
ILO-IPEC experience shows that even in countries where substantial progress has been made and average school enrolment ratios are high, there are still children from poor population groups who do not benefit from this progress. This suggests that apart from general improvements in the education system, special measures are often necessary to increase access to education for children who are especially vulnerable.
Transitional education has to be provided to prevent such children from taking up hazardous work or to wean them away from it. They need to be equipped with basic education, practical knowledge and skills. Such education should consist of an integrated package of basic education, life skills and practical skills training, and should ideally aim at mainstreaming the children into formal education and vocational training systems. However, options also have to be provided to the children who are unable to continue formal education and training, so they do not re-enter the labour market as unskilled workers.
The younger children may require skills that are useful in improving their quality of life and can be developed further, while the older children generally require vocational counselling and practical training that can lead to income generation either through wage labour or self-employment in a broad array of employable skills.
A measure which can be undertaken relatively quickly and which does not require massive investment is the incorporation into children's and parents' education of explicit messages on the dangers of premature work and the rights of children to education, wherever there is a high risk of child labour.
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