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International Conference on
"Out of Work and Into School -
Children's Right to Education as a Non-Negotiable"

Final Statement

We, the participants of the conference "Out of Work and Into School - Children's Right to Education as a Non-Negotiable" (2-5 November 2004, Hyderabad) would like to conclude this two day event with the following statement:
  1. The conference has brought together many different members of the extended family that constitute the MV Foundation together with the Alliance 2015 - Stop Child Labour Campaign - in a joyful sharing and learning experience. The enthusiastic participation of over 5000 delegates has brought energy to the conference and confirmed the strong roots and widening coverage of the movement for the elimination of child labour and education for all children. The conference has also demonstrated that ownership of the movement is vested in the parents and children, in youth groups, in women's groups, in trade unions, in the local panchayats, in the child rights protection committees and most remarkably in the teachers and the thousands of volunteers who work ceaselessly for this cause.

  2. The conference has provided a reaffirmation of the Non-Negotiables. These Non-Negotiables have stood the test of time and the test of practice in the field. Their appropriateness as a platform for future development of the movement has been confirmed.

  3. The conference has provided a platform for mutual exchange and sharing of experiences between participants from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. It was apparent from the testimonies presented by these participants that the non-negotiable approach, duly adapted to take account of contextual differences, has a very wide relevance. The conference has provided an opportunity to widen and deepen earlier contacts between all those involved in abolishing child labour and bringing every child to school and has taken these to a new level of knowledge sharing and exchange. Virtually every delegate - national and international - has expressed solidarity with the non-negotiables and endorsed their relevance for their own work.

  4. International and other donor organizations have confirmed their support for the movement to abolish child labour and bring every child to school. The relevance of all partners - both international and national - in influencing and shaping policy on the related issues cannot be overemphasized.

  5. Against this backdrop it was very significant that senior politicians from across the political divide expressed unequivocal support and commitment for the further expansion of the movement within Andhra Pradesh, within India and worldwide. The conference demonstrated a remarkable rapport between the senior politicians and the masses on this issue.

  6. The participation of local partners - approximately over 100 NGOs and trade union delegates - from different states of India, as well as from Africa, Latin America, Europe and other parts of Asia demonstrated the commitment of these organizations to the elimination of child labour.

  7. The conference provided an opportunity and forum for a broad-based evaluation of both ongoing practices as well as exploration of new areas of work related to the mandate of MV Foundation. Three extremely important areas discussed in some detail were: children affected by HIV/AIDS, street children, and children affected by conflict. Significantly, all three are major global issues where there are considerable opportunities for experience sharing and developing effective strategies. These discussions benefited greatly from the specialist inputs of colleagues from other countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

  8. The one-day workshop on Trade Unions and Child labour also reaffirmed the commitment of trade unions to the abolition of child labour and the attainment of free, full-time, and formal and quality education for all children. Trade unions view such commitments as part of promoting fundamental principles and rights at work for adults, including the right to organizing and collective bargaining, the right to work in freedom, dignity and security, and the right to be free from child labour.

  9. The conference also highlighted urgent necessities with regard to the policy framework for education and child labour. This applies both to the national as well as the international levels. Three specific areas of concern were specially emphasized.

    • The role of new partners, especially the corporate sector, was discussed. Attention was given to the need to take on board the role of child labour along the entire supply chain, and particularly in the informal economy where child labour predominates.

    • In the context of education becoming a fundamental right under the Government of India, the existing Child Labour (R & R) Act, 1985 has become untenable and needs to be repealed. A new law which incorporates the non-negotiable principles adopted by this international conference and on the lines of the indicative legislation suggested by the 2nd National Commission on Labour needs to be adopted as a central legislation.

    • The conference also noted that the emerging movement, which is inspired by the non-negotiables, has produced extraordinary results on the ground and hence we call upon the International organizations and agencies to re-examine their own policy positions and intervention strategies such that the experiences that have emerged from the ground are not diluted or obstructed from above.
This statement reflects the spirit of the conference.

India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - 12 november 2004