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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


VISSER, Anja. Child labour is a matter of national concern: What is the curriculum doing about it?. Journal of Education [online]. 2021, n.85, pp.29-54. ISSN 2520-9868.

Child labour has been of national and international concern since as early as the 1860s. In 2019 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution that 2021 would be the year by which child labour would be eliminated. However, much must still be done to effect this. By studying legislation and literature, I identified different forms of child labour that I go on to discuss in this article. When I explored the notion of child labour from three perspectives on childhood, namely the romanticised view of childhood, the view that children must participate in child labour, and the belief that children need to be protected from the abuse and exploitation seen to be inherent in their working, I came to understand the tensions in conceptualising this concept. I further problematise child labour as an educational issue. One of the purposes of the South African compulsory school curriculum as articulated in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is to facilitate the transition of learners from education institutions to their future workplaces. I argue that CAPS should provide in-depth knowledge on the meaning of child labour in its different forms. For the purposes of this research, I analysed all the compulsory school curricula documents for Grades 1 to 9 by means of document analysis. My main finding is that CAPS does address some forms of child labour, but it does not address those forms (child work and illegal labour) with which most children would likely be confronted. Also, it does not address hazardous forms of child labour nor trafficking in child labour. More research is needed to determine if there are correlations between the results of this explorative document analysis and the received curriculum so that a curriculum response to address child labour can be articulated.

Keywords : child; curriculum; child labour; child work; trafficking.

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