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Shoeshine boys working in New Delhi, India, last month. Rights activists estimate that twenty percent of India's economy is dependent on children under fourteen.
Shoeshine boys working in New Delhi, India, last month. Rights activists estimate that twenty percent of India's economy is dependent on children under fourteen.

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Delegates from around the world have agreed on a new plan to end the worst kinds of child labor by two thousand sixteen.  More than four hundred fifty delegates from eighty countries approved the plan at the Global Child Labor Conference.  It was held in The Hague, the Netherlands, last week.

A week earlier, the International Labor Organization released its third Global Report on Child Labor.  The report said there are still two hundred fifteen million child laborers in the world.  One hundred and fifteen million of them are working in some of the worst kinds of child labor.

These are often dangerous to their health and safety.

The ILO notes that child labor is decreasing worldwide, but at a much slower rate than four years ago. The organization also warned that the global economic crisis could slow progress even more.  It called for an increase in global efforts in order to reach the goals for ending the worst forms of child labor. Representatives at the conference last week talked about what actions need to be taken.

Patrick Quinn is with the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor. He says there is clear evidence of the kinds of policies and programming interventions that can be most effective in combating the problem.

PATRICK QUINN: "We know for example that if governments tackle the barriers that stop poor families accessing education, if they tackle the fees which many poor families often have to pay for education, they can encourage children to attend school.  So governments putting in place the right education policies.  In many parts of the world we've seen that if governments introduce social protection programs, measures for example which give family benefits to families with children, particularly poorer families, this can have an important impact in enabling people to keep their children in school and out of the work force."

Mister Quinn says efforts to combat the problem must also be increased at the community level.   He said the ILO is working with local civic organizations to change opinions about child labor.

The ILO report notes that several areas of the world are making important progress.  They include Latin America, the Caribbean and south Asia.  The least progress has been made in Africa.

Mister Quinn says world leaders will discuss the issue later this year at a meeting on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.  He says there is a close link between these goals and combating child labor.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com.  I'm Steve Ember.

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