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International Response to Child Labor Issues
Kenneth T. Saroka, East Brunswick (NJ) High School

OVERVIEW: Throughout the world, 250 million children are working to earn money for their families, 125 million work full time. The conditions under which they labor are often brutal and because they work, they are denied an education to improve their condition, they are denied the protection of the law, and are denied the opportunity to be a child. The International Labour Organization is the arm of the United Nations that deals with this issue, but how accurately have they defined the problem, and how effectively are they dealing with it is the measure of the fulfillment of ILO goals.

CORE QUESTION: How effective is the international response to child labor problems?

TIME REQUIRED: One 40-minute period. Extension activities could add 3 more 40-minute sections/periods.



NEW JERSEY CORE CONTENT STANDARDS: 6.1: 10-13; 6.2: 9-11; 6.3: 9,12,14; 6.4: 9-13; 6.5 13-5; 6.6 13-15; 6.7: 11-12; 6.8: 12-17.


  1. Students will describe the extent of the problem as the international community sees it.
  2. Students will evaluate the analysis of the ILO.
  3. Students will evaluate the tactics in the response of the ILO.
  4. Students will determine whether national sovereignty is a valid answer to not allowing international agencies to monitor or remedy the problems.
  5. Students will synthesize responses to the critical needs of developing countries that are troubled by child labor problems.

STRATEGIES: (A computer lab is needed to do this to work in the form intended.) This lesson is intended to be one of several possible lessons to sum up / close the unit on child labor. Previous background or case studies is required and those lessons are located on this site.

Click here to access the worksheet that goes with the web research. It will bring up a MICROSOFT WORD document. Saving it to your disk or network folder will allow you to modify it. Print out enough for your classes.

When in the computer lab, direct students to the follow web address:

Have the students review the questions on the worksheet and answer them on the sheet or on a word processing document that they can print for you at the end of the period. If the class cannot complete the assignment in class, issue its completion for homework. Collect the questions, grade them, and use them for the basis of a discussion that could take up another 40-minute class period. The issue of national sovereignty ("stay out my country—who gives you the right to interfere?") comes into play when the ILO or other agencies nose their way into other country's governments.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY – 2 more 40-minute periods, one in a computer lab, one discussing.

Direct students to the WORLD BANK web site ( Ask each student to go to "Country and Regions" on the left side navigation. Have them select a developing country in any region of the world that might be a candidate for child labor problems (example: Mali). Click on either "LENDING PROJECTS" or "PIPELINE PROJECTS" and look for a recent education initiative. Be patient—not all countries will have them, some will have many, and those that do may not have the data files on the project (which are key to evaluate whether that education initiative will put kids in school and take them out of the factories and off of the farms). The Mali example is a good one in case you just want to focus the activity on one country. The PROJECT INFORMATION DOCUMENT is available in either text or Adobe PDF formats. DO NOT HIT PRINT!

NOTE: Please go through this process before you set your students to it! Have the students sift through the important information before they write a synopsis of the program and evaluate the effectiveness of it in remedying the child labor abuses. Having guided several classes in examining World Bank and International Monetary Fund materials, it is vital that the teacher know what is there, how to get to the heart of the issue, and how to get the most out of it. Please take the time ahead of time for the extension activity. The main part of the lesson can be done with some prior preparation.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO A COMPUTER LAB--the ILO web document that you view is 15 pages of printed material, and counting the one page worksheet, that is 16, which makes 8 two-sided pages. If your photocopy room allows it print up packets for classroom use and go over it in class.


Computer lab or research packets

The child labor worksheet


If a computer lab is unavailable, research packets can be compiled from the following sources:

CHILD LABOUR: WHAT'S TO BE DONE? Document for discussion at the Informal Tripartite Meeting at the Ministerial Level, International Labour Office, Geneva. First published June 1996. (The ILO document listed above. There is another part to this document. Change the number 2 at the end of the web address to 1 and hit ENTER and the first part of that document comes up.)

The World Bank. Click the links to visit their site.

The child labor worksheet can be found by clicking the link.
Child Labor Worksheet


Answers to the worksheet questions are graded. Summary and evaluation of the extension activity could be graded on thoroughness and staying on the topic of alleviating child labor problems.

To learn more about the influence of Children's Rights on our global society, click on the links below:
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