LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS - Today, IKEA Foundation and Save the Children announced they will expand their efforts  to fight child labor in the cotton industry, with new programs in the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajastan.

This expansion will build on already successful effforts in 1,866 villages in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra where more than 65,000 children (6-14 years) have been moved out of child labor and into classrooms. In addition, the projects have also helped 89,000 children (3-6 years) benefit from quality pre-school education (Anganwadi), and provided vocational skills to 16,000 15 – 18 year olds.

The three new projects will aim to replicate this success by:

  • Improving the quality of education to make sure children complete school and reduce the drop-out rate;
  • Enhancing family incomes through access to government social security and rural work schemes;
  • Raising awareness in cotton-growing communities of children’s rights and the dangers to children from working in cotton fields and factories.

“This is a natural step in our long collaboration with Save the Children to strengthen children’s rights in India,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of IKEA Foundation. “If we can create more opportunities for children in developing countries by improving education and awareness of children’s rights, we can help these children break the cycle of poverty and build a brighter future for themselves, their families and society at large.”

The projects have been designed in partnership with Save the Children to ensure that communities are actively involved in preventing children from working on cotton and cotton-seed farms by setting up Child Protection Committees, providing quality education and building families’ capacity to access alternative sources of income.

The new work in Punjab and Haryana, two of India’s largest cotton producing states  will build on this community involvement model.  A study commissioned by IKEA Foundation in 2008 revealed that prosperous Punjab has one of the highest percentages of child labor of all of India’s states, with an estimated 25% of the cotton picking force.  Haryana is not far behind, with 16% of cotton picking labor being children. This study estimates about 500,000 child laborers in Punjab, 350,000 in Haryana and 440,000 Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan, one of the poorest states in India where more than 46% * of the children drop out of school, the work will also include a focus on child migration from the district of Banswada.

Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children India says, “Children’s groups have played an essential role in educating local officials and parents in the risks of sending children to work and the importance of education.  We are delighted to be able to work with the IKEA Foundation in expanding this work further to reach even more children across India.”

IKEA Foundation’s efforts to tackle child labor in India and Pakistan began in 2001.

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programs benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We are 29 national organisations working together to deliver programs in more than 120 countries around the world. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

*Ministry of Human Resources Development Annual Report: 2009-10.

Source: IKEA

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