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Breaking the link between child labor and poverty

This week’s World Child Labor Day quietly came and went.

Child labor fell by one-third between 2000 and 2012. But about 1 in 10 children worldwide, or 168 million children, still work instead of learn. Nearly half of all kids out of school are trapped in child labor. Child labor continues to be a drag on prosperity, economic inclusion and Sustainable Development Goal №4: Quality education for all.

Poverty is not the cause of child labor. Rather, labor at an early age limits a child’s ability to go to school, learn to read and later earn a reliable income, according to a 2015 International Labour Organization report.

To break the destructive relationship between child labor, poverty and education, investors and entrepreneurs can help reduce the cost of education, build more schools and train teachers in disconnected regions, says the Global Partnership for Education. Other ideas: provide accommodation for girls, especially those at the age of menstruation, and manage the school-to-work transition by creating opportunities for work.

“Child labor perpetuates poverty. Child labor creates poverty,” said 2014 Nobel Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi. “If the children are deprived from education, then they are bound to remain poor for the whole of their life.”

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