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Global Task Force on Child Labour Launched in Beijing

A global task force that will strengthen co-operation and shine the spotlight on child labour and education was launched yesterday in Beijing as an important result of the ongoing fifth High-Level Group Meeting on Education for All.

The meeting is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference taking place in Beijing until Wednesday.

The task force will be based in Beijing and will work to mobilize political will and momentum towards making child labour and education a mainstream issue, said Peter Smith, assistant director general of the UNESCO.

"It is not a new organization," he said. "Instead, it works on the basis of different partnerships."

Smith said the task force would begin with collecting data related to the child labour situation in various countries.

"We need to know where the kids are, who they are and where they are in the labour market," he explained.

Another primary goal for the task force is to advance the co-operation between the ministries of education and labour as well as agencies and organizational partners.

"We will do it through disseminating good practices, which allude that success can be achieved if we give the issue enough attention," Smith said.

The task force will start with five initial members of organizations and will welcome more partners soon, he said.

Statistics from a survey conducted by Beijing-based International Labour Organization (ILO) three years ago showed that there were 246 million child labourers worldwide, with nearly 180 million engaged in hazardous jobs.

A new figure will be published at the end of next April, and by then, ILO will be able to assess whether the situation is looking optimistic or not, said the organization.

Although declining to reveal the figure of child labour in China and other countries, Hans van de Glind, project manager of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour with ILO, said a good number of poor Chinese children in rural areas are facing the risk of being trafficked as they migrate with their parents.

To help ensure the "safe migration of children and women," the ILO launched a joint project with the Chinese Government on preventing human trafficking in five provinces in the country a year ago.

"We help inform young women and children of the possible risks during migration and teach them how to protect themselves legally and effectively," Glind said.

(China Daily November 29, 2005)

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