Child labour creates necessary income for families and communities. Take it away and it is the children who will suffer most. Don't you agree?


This is a discussion activity. The starting point is a case study of a child labourer. Participants go on to explore aspects of child labour, the causes and how to end it.

Related rights

• Protection from economic exploitation
• The right to education
• The right to rest and leisure


• To extend knowledge about child labour, especially in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
• To develop critical thinking and skills to analyse complex problems
• To cultivate values of justice and responsibility for finding solutions to human rights violations


• Copies of the facts of Ashique's life; one copy per participant
• Pens or markers, one per small group
• Flipchart paper or large sheets of paper (A3)


• Copy the design for the "ideas for solutions" sheet onto large, A3-size sheets of paper: one per small group, plus one for the plenary
• Inform yourself about child labour, the definition of child labour and how widespread it is.
• Inform yourself about the Sustainable Development Goals

Key Date
  • 12 JuneWorld Day Against Child Labour


1. Ask participants what they know about child labour.
2. Explain that the activity is based on a case study of Ashique,  who works in a brick factory in Pakistan. The task is to try to find possible ways of changing Ashique's situation.
3. To warm up, do a round of "composed story-telling". Make up an imaginary and imaginative story about a day in Ashique's life. Go round the circle asking each person in turn to add a sentence.
4. Divide the participants into small groups with a maximum of 5 people per group. Give everyone a copy of Ashique's case study. Allow 10 minutes for reading and sharing comments.
5. Give each group a copy of the "ideas for solutions" sheet. Explain that their task is to brainstorm solutions to the problems faced by Ashique and other child labourers like him. They must write down in the appropriate columns the possible steps that can be taken to solve the problem "by tomorrow", "by next month" and "by 2030".They have 30 minutes to complete this task and to nominate a spokesperson to report back.
6. In plenary, take it in rounds to get feedback on each column in turn. Summarise the ideas on the flip chart. Allow discussion on the ideas, but be aware of time constraints!
7. When the table is complete, move on to a fuller discussion and debriefing.

Debriefing and evaluationGoto top

The depth of the discussion will depend on the participants' general knowledge but try to cover questions both about their views on child labour as well as on the possible solutions.

• How much did people already know about the existence of child labour before doing this activity? How did they know? Where did they get the information from?
• Is there child labour in their country/town? What work do children do and why do they work?
• Should children be allowed to work if they want to?
• "Child labour creates necessary income for families and communities. Take it away and it is the children who will suffer most." How do you answer this?
• In what ways do we, as consumers, benefit from child labour?
• How difficult was it to think of possible steps to solve child labour? Which of the three columns - " by tomorrow", "by next month" and "by 2030" - was the most difficult to fill in? Why?
• There have been many national and international declarations and conferences about the issue of child labour. Why is it still such a large-scale problem in the world?
• How does the UDHR and the Convention on the Rights of the Child protect the exploitation of children?
• Who should be responsible for the solving the problem? (Take a different colour pen and write the suggestions on the flip-chart.)
• What can ordinary people like us do to contribute to achieving the SDGs,, especially those of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving universal primary education? How and when?

Tips for facilitatorsGoto top

If participants know very little about child labour, you may want to start the activity by giving them a few facts about child labour and its consequences. A fun way to do this might be to take the statistics from the chart or the chart in "Further information" below and turn them into a short quiz.

You may need to poi nt out that 2030 is the target date for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If necessary explain that the SDGs follow on from where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off in 2015. The 17 SDGs reflect the reality that human development issues are complex and cross cutting.

The three that relate to Ashique's situation are:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  • Goal 4.Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

For more information about the SDGs see the activity "How much do we need?" and .

It may be difficult for groups to find ideas for the first two columns (tomorrow and next month) which might create a feeling of powerlessness and frustration. You could motivate them by reading out the following statement:
"The task is big, but not so big as to prove either unwieldy or burdensome. It is worth developing countries dealing with child labour. This shows that what has caused the problem of child labour here is really not a dearth of resources, but a lack of real zeal. Let this not continue."
Supreme Court in the case of India, 1986

Usually participants realise that, in order to find effective and lasting solutions to a problem, it is first necessary to identify the causes. Having analysed the causes, solutions often become more apparent. However, you may have to point this out to some groups, especially if they are getting bogged down with identifying solutions.
You could provoke ideas for solutions by suggesting one or more of the following:
• Reduce poverty so there is less need for children to work
• Increase adults' wages so there is less need for children to work
• Develop education so that it is more attractive and relevant to children's needs
• Develop international standards for the employment of children
• Ban products made with child labour
• Develop global minimum labour standards as a requirement for membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Use any current news reports about child labour - either local or global - to make the activity topical and engaging.

VariationsGoto top

If you want to develop participants' knowledge on the concept of child labour prior to the activity, you can use a quiz, for instance, one from the or web pages.
Instead of warming up with a "composed story-telling" (stage 3 of the instructions), divide the participants into small groups with a maximum of 5 people per group. Give each group five pieces of A3 paper and ask them to draw five events in a typical day in Ashique's life and to present them as in a comic strip. When the groups have finished, ask to them to present their stories.

Facilitators who are good at drawing cartoons may like to draw Ashique's story as a comic strip with each scene of his life in a different square. Make sure you keep it simple, including just the basic information. Make photocopies of the story (one copy per group) and cut out the squares. Give one set of pictures to each group and ask them make up a story about Ashique by adding short texts or speech bubbles. When the groups have finished, ask to them to present their stories.

Suggestions for follow-upGoto top

Inspire the members of the group to become active campaigners for rights by telling them the story of how a 12-year-old Canadian boy together with his friends founded the "Kids can free the Children" organisation after reading a newspaper article about the murder of 12-year-old Pakistani factory worker who had spoken out against child labour.
Find out how child workers in Peru have organised themselves into the National Movement of Peruvian Young Workers' Organisations (in Spanish):

If you want to learn more about the SDGs and see what it would cost to improve Ashique’s life compared with how much is spent on the military worldwide, look at the activity "How much do we need?" .

Bring it closer to home. Get the group to think about where the dividing line lies between employers exploiting children such as Ashique, and employers paying ridiculously low wages to young people who work evenings or on Saturdays to earn pocket money or to keep themselves at school or college? What about parents using their children to undertake duties in the home or family business? What were participants' own experiences? If participants want to follow up on these ideas, then look at the activity "My childhood" in the All Different – All Equal Education Pack.

Ideas for actionGoto top

You can participate in some campaigns, for example: and can start to choose the clothes and other objects you buy regarding the countries provenience.
According to the ILO's estimatesestimates in 2013, the global number of children in child labour has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work (down from 171 million in 2000).

Further informationGoto top

The Environmental Justice Foundation's report, "Children behind our cotton" details the shocking conditions endured by more than an estimated one million children – some as young as five – who work 12-hour days in extremes of hot and cold weather, many suffering physical, verbal and sometimes sexual abuse.

Child labour refers to the employment of children in regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organisations and is illegal in many countries. Child labour is different from the casual or part-time work that many children and young people take on to earn pocket money or to supplement student grants. However, this is not to say that people earning pocket money are not exploited sometimes.

In Chapter 5, in the background information sections on Children  and on Work , there is more information about child labour, about products made with child labour, international law about child labour, and the consequences of child labour for the child.

The following chart shows the number of children aged 5-17 engaged in child labour.

Children in employment, child labour and hazardous work by region, 5-17 years age group, 2012


Region(a) Children in employment Child labour Hazardous work
  (‘000)      %             (‘000)      % (‘000)      %

Asia and the Pacific

129,358   15.5 77,723     9.3 33,860     4.1
Latin America and the Caribbean 17,843     12.5 12,505     8.8 9,638       6.8
Sub Saharan Africa 83,570     30.3         59,031     21.4 28,767     10.4
Middle East and North Africa 13,307     12.1 9,244       8.4 5,224       4.7
World total 2012    264,427   16.7 167,956   10.6

85,344     5.4

Reference. Tables 1 and 2 from Marking progress against child labour Global estimates and trends 2000-2012 ILO

Note: (a) The regional totals sum to less than the world totals because the latter include countries that are outside of the four main regions reported here.

HandoutsGoto top

PDFDownload as PDF

Handout 1: Facts about Ashique’s life

Personal Data
Name: Ashique Hashmir
Age: 11 years old
Nationality: Pakistani
Family: Parents, 2 grandparents,
1 sister and 3 brothers
Family Income: about 70 €/month

“Professional” Data
“Profession”: worker in a brick factory
Working Hours: between 12 to 16 hours a day (1/2 hour break) – 6 days a week
Working Production: about 600 bricks a day
Wage: 1.3 Euro for 1000 bricks (but 50% goes for repayment of loan made by his family)
Working since he was 5 years old

Other Information
His family has been bonded for 2 years because they took a loan of about (P)Rs.6000 (110 Euro). Now, with the loan interest, the amount owed is about 280 Euro.
Ashique was sent to school for 3 months by his father but the factory owner removed him and put him back to work.
His father was punished because of what he had done.
The family income is very low and consequently insufficient to send the children to school and to provide adequate food and health care.


Handout 2: Ideas for solutions

What can be done about Ashique’s situation - and that of other child labourers?

By tomorrow? By next month? By 2030