June 12, 2009
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Antonia Cortese,
Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers,
On ‘World Day Against Child Labor'
Antonia Cortese, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition, is speaking at today's official ceremony in Geneva, marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the International Labour Organization's Convention No. 182 on identifying and eradicating the most egregious examples of child labor.
WASHINGTON—The international community must call for immediate action to end what has become an unacceptable norm in many countries that force children to work in fields or factories rather than learn in classrooms. Child labor should be considered a crime against society that must be stopped no matter where it is practiced. The situation is made worse in countries such as Uzbekistan, where the government actually forces teachers to enlist or oversee children in coerced labor situations. The answer to breaking the miserable cycle of poverty is education, not child labor.
The AFT has developed curricula and other resources for U.S. educators on the plight of child labor in the United States and throughout the world. The AFT will continue to shine a bright light on this often-hidden problem until it is eradicated once and for all.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.