June 8, 2010
AFT President Stresses Universal Education as Key to Ending Child Labor
Aid for Basic Schooling Is Investment in Economic Growth and Stability, Weingarten Says
WASHINGTON—Children should be in classrooms, not in factories or on farms, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said today at a U.S. State Department child labor conference at which she pledged support for a multilateral Global Fund for Education.
Weingarten said universal basic education is the most important strategy for combating child labor, ending the exploitation of children in the workplace and getting them out of the cycle of poverty. “Children should be in classrooms, not in workrooms or in agricultural fields, where they often perform dangerous jobs under hazardous conditions,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten called on the United States and other donor nations and organizations to step up funding and make good on existing pledges of aid to achieve basic education for all the world’s children by 2015.
Weingarten supports creation of a multilateral Global Fund for Education as a mechanism to attract donors and address structural problems in the current aid system. “We must help all nations see that spending on universal, quality basic education around the world not only is an investment in the futures of the 72 million children—a majority of them girls—currently out of school, but it also bolsters economic development and stability,” she said.
The State Department conference—titled “Working Together to Combat Child Labor: It’s Time to Stop the Exploitation of Children”—brought together high-level U.S. officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, labor, business, media and human rights groups. In addition to the U.S. departments of State and Labor and the American Federation of Teachers, co-sponsors of the event were the No Limits Foundation and the International Labor Rights Forum.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.