Social policies like MGNREGS can tackle child labour: Report

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Social protection policies such as MGNREGS and the direct cash transfer scheme can play a key role in fighting child labour, a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said Monday.

The report, “International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)”, reviews relevant research on how different types of social protection measures – such as cash transfer schemes, social health protection and income security in old age – can help combat child labour.

The report cites a study in Guatemala showing that children from households where at least one member is covered by health insurance, are about 4.5 per cent less likely to work.

Similarly, Brazil’s Bolsa Escola cash transfer programme, which pays families a certain amount per month provided their children go to school, led to a drop of nearly nine per cent in child labour in rural areas.

In Cambodia, child labour was down by 10 percent following the introduction of the Education Sector Support Project scholarship programme, which also involves cash transfers.

“This report contributes to a better understanding of the underlying economic and social vulnerabilities that generate child labour,” said Constance Thomas, IPEC Director.

“It clearly shows that investing in social protection through nationally-defined social protection floors is a crucial part of the response in the fight against child labour,” he said.

Tine Staermose, director of ILO’s South Asia technical advisory team and country office in India, added: “The importance of appreciating the range of policy and programmatic dimensions that can lead to an effective social protection for adults, but also most critically for children, as reports on India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Rural Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) are indicating.”

In addition, the report says that extending social protection in line with the ILO Recommendation on social protection floors, adopted less than a year ago, should be a key part of national strategies to tackle child labour.

National social protection floors should include at least a basic level of income security throughout the life cycle, as well as access to essential health care, it said.

The authors of the report further recommend introducing child labour-specific measures in social security systems, strengthening national legal frameworks and capacity, as well as reaching out to vulnerable groups of children.

Worldwide, about 215 million children work.

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