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Global Efforts To Eradicate Child Labor

Teacher unions have proven to be effective instruments for combating child labor because of their ability to influence children to remain in school. For example, by providing clean educational environments, libraries, literacy programs for parents, vision testing and glasses, and after-school programs that emphasize the importance of education and citizenship, Education International has reduced dropout rates in Morocco by as much as 91 percent over a three-year period. Similarly, in Indonesia, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Indonesian Teachers Union are working together to implement a program in East, Central and West Java that will train teachers to understand child workers and to persuade parents to send their children to school. The AFT is a strong supporter of all such union efforts that seek to prevent children from leaving school to enter the labor force.

In particular, the AFT is involved in campaigns to eradicate child labor in Uzbek cotton fields and in Liberian rubber factories. Read more to find out how you can help and how these campaigns can be incorporated into classroom activities for students.

The AFT also encourages its members and other concerned individuals to become personally involved in the struggle against child labor:

  • Educate Yourself . Knowledge is the most valuable tool for any advocate. The AFT also recommends that educators spend as much time discussing the topic of child labor with their students as curricula permit.
  • Be a Conscientious Consumer. Ethical purchasing is another significant part of the fight against child labor. Refusing to buy goods produced by children limits the demand for their labor.
  • Contact your Representatives. Ask them to support legislation that takes a stand against child labor. The AFT hopes that its members will be among the many people who contact their senators to request support for the resolution introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that calls upon the government of Uzbekistan to abide by its own laws and international standards that prohibit child labor in the cotton industry.
  • Pressure Companies.  Companies that utilize the products of child labor often respond to consumer-driven letter campaigns. The AFT is currently supporting one such campaign asking Firestone to eradicate child labor and improve working conditions at its rubber factory in Liberia.
  • Raise Awareness. Talking with family and friends, distributing posters and pamphlets, circulating petitions and writing to local newspapers all help to increase public knowledge about the abuses of child labor.
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