0. Cutting the Poverty Chains
Child labour plays a role of generating poverty, and vice versa. Also, increasing poverty causes decreasing education, and vice versa. There appears to be a poverty vicious cycle between these three factors, as mentioned in a previous article.
Education and child labour are, among other factors, key determinants of human capital development … Education and child labour are two sides of the same coin and their challenges must be addressed simultaneously.
ILO IPEC (2010)
So now, the question is how to cut the chains between these factors. In other ways around, what interventions or instruments can be considered to terminate the poverty cycle of poor households?
Surely, there are thousands of comprehensive interventions, projects and ideas across the world. But here, I would like to limit my discussion to social protection interventions as an instrument for cutting the vicious chains. See the figure below.
There may be approaches for social protection instruments to intervene the vicious cycle (i.e. Poverty – Child Labour; Child Labour – Education; and Education – Poverty).
One of the most popular incentives for families to send children to work is lack of income. A basic idea of instruments which cut the chain between poverty and child labour may be to support family finances. Such interventions include public works, income transfers and vocational trainings. Through these schemes, targeted households could promote and sustain their livelihoods. Also, reducing risks of income drops should be another key issue for poor households. Through a social policy like old age pension, unemployment insurance health insurance and disaster relief can reduce or mitigate household’s risks to fall into or deepen poverty. Then, these successful social protection interventions may contribute to prevent children from entering hazardous work.
2. Child Labour
A direct approach to child labour may be another way to intervene this vicious cycle. As the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) of the ILO demonstrates effective models for this, it is important simultaneously to conduct a package of schemes for withdrawing and rehabilitating child labourers, and preventing at-risk children to start to work. More specifically, the programme establishes community-based child labour monitoring systems to protect and prevent children from entering child labour, and set up informal education system before transferring ex- child labourers to formal education.
Providing education opportunities to the poor may also benefit to cut the vicious cycle. For example, scholarship, school feeding, school fee waivers and school material subsidies likely encourage poor households to send their children to school.
These are only some examples of social protection interventions to combat the vicious cycle of poverty. There are more ways to approach this complicated subject matter.
Poverty and Child Labour: A Vicious Cycle