Sri Lanka has made great strides in eradicating child labour by establishing Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) and monitoring children who fail to attend schools, Sri Lankan delegates told the High-Level meeting on ‘Target 8.7’ of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held in New York on Wednesday.
The fact sheet presented by Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister Ravindra Samaraweera to the High-Level meeting explained how a district-wide plan got children out of work and into school resulting in the world’s first Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ) in Ratnapura.
“The pioneering idea of a CLFZ was born when the Sri Lankan government started thinking about how to best implement its 2016 Roadmap on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The Ratnapura District was chosen to pilot CLFZs because the structure of its economy was thought to increase the risk of child labour. Following an in-depth analysis of the root causes of child labour in the area, district government officials concluded that many of these are also at the root of other issues negatively affecting quality of life, such as malnutrition and unemployment,” it said.
Taking a holistic approach, the district then developed a ‘Total Child Development Plan’ (TCDP), which aims for all children in the area to be ‘protected children’. The TCDP combats existing child labour, prevents it from happening and improves life chances for all children.
“Schools now proactively identify those children at risk of not completing their education and therefore at risk of child labour. Tailored solutions encourage school attendance and reduce vulnerability,” Sri Lanka told the High-Level meeting. (Lahiru Pothmulla)