World Leaders wake up, save the school going children from tsunami effect of financial meltdown, IMF commit to fair play with poor
The 1.4 billion people who live in or on the verge of extreme poverty are all facing grim future and the toughest battle of their lives in the developing world for survival as per the direct fallout of the financial meltdown. Learning from past we know that macroeconomic shocks and political instability have been demonstrated to play a role in determining the supply of child labor and school attendance rates, as was observed during the 1998 Asian financial crisis and observed a drop in enrolment rates and a rise in child labor among 10-14 year-olds in the Philippines. The impact of the crisis was also noted as resulting in increased labor exploitation of girls in Indonesia and Thailand. We are learning from Surat in Gujarat, India the recent slowdown has taken the sheen off $ 10 Billion diamond industry and resulted in job losses of over half a million people. Workers have in large scale returned to their homes far away forcing the children to withdraw from schools in absence of social protection and school fees, pushing them to become child laborers. There is phenomenal drop out in the school attendance. The industry association of diamond and gem workers has proposed to provide continued assistance to only 36, 000 children to attend schools whose parents are part of the formal workforce. But bulk of the work force is informal and not entitled for any social protection. It sells cheap labor on daily wage basis. There are already 71 suicides reported by the diamond workers in the last several months since losing their jobs in the print media, imagine the fate of the children. In Africa the global downturn has undermined demand for many industrial commodities- including oil in Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, and copper in Zambia. The poor in Zambia growing flowers were able to send the children to schools but now the Dutch importers having cancelled their contract. In Senegal there is sharp decline in inward remittances from 15% of the population overseas contributing $2 Billion annually to support the family income as much as 70% or 7.6% of the GDP. World Bank estimates sharp decline in $95 Billion pumped to poor world wide by inward remittances, supplementing family incomes and in many situations allowing the poor to send their younger ones to school in pursuit of building a better future. Analysts fear 2.4 million Latin Americans may lose their jobs with the current meltdown, failure to act now with sense of fierce urgency will give rise to poverty of between 10% and 15% this year in the region. IMF’s own growth forecast for Africa says that 15 of the 21 countries which it judges most vulnerable to the crisis are in Africa. The victims of all this are the children, first they are withdrawn from school and then in forced to work as child laborers.
The Spring meeting of the Development Committee of IMF/WB is taking place against the back drop of this severe economic recession and the down ward spiral. This has created the severe liquidity problem and the situation has been compounded by the global financial institutions panic reaction of hasty capital outflows from the poor countries, deprecating values of the foreign currencies and sharp decline in the stock markets. In addition the trade embargoes have additionally exacerbated the situation in the domestic context by creating hurdles for export of goods, products, commodities and services creating large scale contraction of the economy and opportunities. The G-20 Heads of the Government’s met in London during April 2008 and considered only measures to provide stimulus for large businesses and to the IMF for strengthening the special drawing rights of the poor countries by assigning $ 250 Billion short term trade credit, and another $100 in aid for developing countries. The challenge remains in this to see that how the economic stimulus is linked to development in the South. The Global March and its worldwide membership is concerned about the impact of the global financial crisis on the vulnerable families and hardest to reach children and in this respect submits the following demands to the Members of the Development Committee:
• The need of the hour is for a people centered economic stimulus and this can only be achieved by initiating a positive social dialogue and fostering stronger partnership between agencies, institutions, NGO’s and social partners on how to stimulate community based economic development.
•Earmark at least $10 Billion towards supporting a package of incentives focusing on preventing children drop out from schools, withdrawing child labor from the informal labor market in time bound manner, investing in building the infrastructure of the schools such as school buildings, water-sanitation services in the school, providing uniforms, running community kitchens to serve one hot meal daily, provisioning text books and other school supplies, allowing governments to hire more teachers and train the existing teachers and providing modest cash transfers to families to prevent child labor. All of this will enable jump start the local economy and orient the economic stimulus to people centered development.
• There is fierce need for policy coherence and ILO’s programme to lie more closely alongside the programmes of UNESCO, the UNDP, World Bank. A good example of this will be to deliver in the form of concrete commitments to the Education For All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) for supporting country led efforts in true spirit of ownership and accountability and in partnership through the strengthening of the ILO led Time Bound International Programme on Elimination of Child Labor so that the efforts on EFA and elimination of child labor are logically placed as complimenting one another
• There is need to systematically rebuild the credibility of the IMF by embracing a governance system and scope for social dialogue to keep the focus on people centered development. It needs to be aligned to the new world reality emerging from the financial meltdown exposing its inherent shortcomings.
*Statement from Global March Against Child Labor representing 2000 member organizations in 100 countries including ITUC and Education International representing the interest of the child laborers and the hardest to reach children worldwide.
- Contact Information
- Dr Sudhanshu Joshi
- Executive Director
- International Center on Child Labor and Education
- Contact via E-mail
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