Recent global estimates indicate that 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are engaged in child labour across the world (ILO 2017b: 8). According to these same estimates, 71% of child labourers work in the agricultural sector and 69% in unpaid work within their own family. Nearly half of all those in child labour are doing ‘hazardous work’ (ibid). According to the ILO, the total number of children in child labour has declined by about 94 million since 2000, although this trend has slowed significantly in recent years (ILO 2017a: 10).
Four policy areas have been identified as key to tackling the problem of child labour: legal standards and regulation, social protection, labour markets and – the topic of this review – education. This report examines the available evidence on short and long-term impacts of interventions targeted at working children.
The existing body of evidence on the impact of education interventions on children in work is mixed. There is a relatively substantial volume of research which examines the impacts of conditional cash transfers linked with children’s education. There is also a smaller body of evidence around the impact of financial incentives to children and their families (including scholarships and school subsidies). The evidence on other types of education interventions – such as provision of non financial subsidies (for example, Food-for-Education or free transportation), improving quality of education as well as transitional or informal learning programmes for working children- is much more fragmented and patchy.