International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > Ashique's story
Child labour creates necessary income for
families and communities. Take it away and it is the children
who will suffer most. Is it so
|| 90 minutes
||This activity uses small group discussions to explore the
- The reality of child labour
- The causes of child labour and how to end it
- The right to protection against harmful forms of work
- The right to education
- The right to play and recreation
- To increase knowledge about the reality of child labour
- To develop critical thinking about the complexity of
- To encourage the values of justice and the feeling
of responsibility for finding solutions
- Copies of the facts of Ashique's life; one copy per
- Pens and markers
- Flipchart paper or large sheets of paper (A3)
- Copy the design for the "ideas for solutions"
sheet onto large, A3-size sheets of paper or flipchart
paper: one per small group, plus one for the plenary
- Gather some of the further information below to use
to introduce the activity
- Tell the participants that the activity is based on a case
study of Ashique, a child worker in Pakistan. The aim is to
try to find possible ways of changing Ashique's situation.
- . To warm up, do a round of "composed story-telling".
Make up an imaginary and imaginative story about a day in Ashique's
life. Go round the circle asking each person in turn to add
- . Divide the participants into small groups with a maximum
of 5 people per group. Give everyone a copy of Ashique's life
facts. Allow 5 minutes for reading and sharing comments.
- . Give each group a copy of the "ideas for solutions"
sheet. Explain that their task is to brainstorm solutions to
the problems faced by Ashique and other child labourers. They
must write down in the appropriate columns the possible steps
that can be taken to solve the problem "by tomorrow",
"by next month" and "in the future". They
have 30 minutes to complete this task and to nominate a spokesperson
to report back.
- In plenary, take it in rounds to get feedback on each column
in turn. Summarise the ideas on the flip chart. Allow discussion
on the ideas if desired, but be aware of time constraints!
- When the table is complete, move on to a fuller discussion
Debriefing and evaluation
The depth of the discussion will depend on the participants'
general knowledge but try to cover questions both about their
views on child labour as well as on the possible solutions.
- How much did people already know about the existence of child
labour before doing this activity? How do they know? Where did
they get the information from?
- Is there child labour in their country/town? What work do
children do and why do they work?
- Should children work? Should they be able to choose whether
to work or not?
- "Child labour creates necessary income for families
and communities. Take it away and it is the children who will
suffer most." How do you answer this?
- In what ways do we, as consumers, benefit from child labour?
- How difficult was it to think of possible steps to solve
child labour? Which of the three columns - " by tomorrow",
"by next month" and " in the future" - was
the most difficult to fill in? Why?
- There have been many national and international declarations
and conferences about the issue of child labour. Why is it still
such a large-scale problem in the world?
- Who should be responsible for the solving the problem? (Take
a different colour pen and write the suggestion on the chart.)
- Can ordinary people like you and me help solve this problem?
How and when?
Tips for facilitators
If participants know very little about child labour, you may
want to start the activity by giving them a few facts about child
labour and its consequences. A fun way to do this might be to
take the statistics below and turn them into a short quiz.
It may be difficult for groups to find ideas for the first two
columns (tomorrow and next month) which might create a feeling
of powerlessness and frustration. You could motivate them by reading
out the following statement:
"The task is big, but not so big as to prove either
unwieldy or burdensome. It is worth developing countries dealing
with child labour. This shows that what has caused the problem
of child labour here is really not a dearth of resources, but
a lack of real zeal. Let this not continue."
Supreme Court in the case of M. C. Mehta v. the State of
Tamil Nadu and Others, India, 1986
Usually participants realise that, in order to find effective
and lasting solutions to a problem, it is first necessary to identify
the causes. Having analysed the causes, solutions often become
more apparent. However, you may have to point this out to some
groups, especially if they are getting bogged down with identifying
You could provoke ideas for solutions by suggesting one or more
of the following:
- reduce poverty so there is less need for children to work
- increase adults' wages so there is less need for children
- develop education so that it is more attractive and relevant
to children's needs
- develop international standards for the employment of children
- ban products made with child labour
- develop global minimum labour standards as a requirement
for membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
Use any current news reports about child labour - either local
or global - to make the activity topical and more interesting.
If you want to develop participants' knowledge
on the concept of child labour, previous to the activity, you
can use a quiz. You can find numerous quizzes on the ILO web page
and on the Unicef web page.
Suggestions for follow up
Find out more about youth campaigns against child labour, for example, "Kids Can Free the Children", a children's rights foundation, which was created by a 12-year-old Canadian boy (www.icomm.ca/freechild/).
You may like to go on to take a look at issues of inequality of opportunity for young people in your own society through the activity, "Take a step forward".
There are many aspects to issues about children working. For example, where is the dividing line between employers exploiting children like Ashique and employers paying ridiculously low wages to young people who work evenings or on Saturdays to earn pocket money or to keep themselves at school or college? What about parents using their children to undertake duties in the home or family business? What were people's own experiences? If the group wants to follow these ideas up, then look at the activity, "My childhood" in the all different all equal education pack.
In chapter 5, in the background information sections on children
and on social rights, there are statistics about child labour,
and information about what is made with child labour, about international
law and about child labour and the consequences of child labour
for the child.
The scale of the problem of child labour means that there is
a wealth of information available on this issue. Useful Internet
sites include the International Labour Organisation (www.ilo.org),
Unicef and Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org.uk).