EI welcomes this initiative by affiliates to initiate international work to fight child labour. “Teachers are uniquely placed to make sure that every child’s right to education, and furthermore to quality education, is respected worldwide,” EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said.
The pilot project, drawing on materials to be developed by the AFT and the JTA, non-governmental organisations, governments, community groups and others, was launched on 19 August during the JTA’s annual conference. It will raise awareness among students about the dangers of trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation, will provide educators with resources to identify children who might be at risk, and will harness community resources to try to protect those children and advocate in schools, government agencies, legislative bodies and other venues on behalf of survivors.
Over 5m victims of child trafficking
These teacher unions are alarmed at estimates by the International Labour Organisation that 5.5 million children around the world are victims of human trafficking, and acknowledge that this is a global problem. AFT and JTA fully believe that, as teacher unions, their members are in contact with the children affected by this terrible crime and are well-positioned to prevent and mitigate it among children at risk.
Teachers in the frontline to eradicate child labour
“Teachers have a powerful role to play in ensuring their students are safe,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “With the materials that we develop for educators and other school staff, we can help empower students to try to avoid dangerous situations and we can help connect children in need to available services in their community.”
This is the kind of union the AFT is, finding solutions and solving problems so it can reclaim the promise of public education for every child in every community, she added.
Letter of cooperation on joint work against child trafficking
AFT and JTA also signed a letter of cooperation on joint work to combat child trafficking in Jamaica and the United States. The letter lays out steps both education unions will take to address child trafficking in their schools and communities.
“Our intention is that these union-driven solutions to child trafficking will not only strengthen our schools, communities and unions, but serve as a model throughout the region and for our affiliate partners in Education International,” the letter stresses.