Child labour monitoring (CLM)

One of the most potent means of addressing child labour is to regularly check the places where girls and boys may be working. Child labour monitoring (CLM) is the active process that ensures that such observation is put in place and is coordinated in an appropriate manner. Its overall objective is to ensure that as a consequence of monitoring children and young legally employed workers are safe from exploitation and hazards at work. The active scrutiny of child labour at the local level is supported by a referral system which establishes a link between appropriate services and ex-child labourers.

In practice CLM involves the identification, referral, protection and prevention of child labourers through the development of a coordinated multi-sector monitoring and referral process that aims to cover all children living in a given geographical area. Its principal activities include regularly repeated direct observations to identify child labourers and to determine risks to which they are exposed, referral of these children to services, verification that they have been removed and tracking them afterwards to ensure that they have satisfactory alternatives.

Why is CLM useful?

It extends the coverage of limited “beneficiary” focused child labour projects to all child labour in a given area and promotes the institutionalization of a permanent response mechanism to child labour. It also helps specific child labour projects to phase-out in planned and organized way.

As part of the work against child labour CLM can be:

  • A tool to mainstream and sustain project based child labour work into government child and labour protection work - the focus here is on long term impact of anti child labour programmes and projects.
  • Organizing principle for direct action activities through using the referral system as basis for selection of beneficiaries and facilitation of their access to appropriate services i.e. education and skills training.
  • Part of the general information generating process on child labour.

Information on the main elements and characteristics of child labour monitoring can be found in the Child Labour Monitoring Brochure and Facts on Child Labour Monitoring

Evolution of CLM 

CLM is an evolving area of child labour work which is closely linked to enforcement of national child labour legislation. A wide range of child labour monitoring initiatives have been designed, implemented and tested as part of over ten years of ILO-IPEC's global work against child labour. CLM first started in early 1990’s in the manufacturing sector through IPEC projects in Bangladesh and Pakistan from which it expanded into other economic sectors, such as fishing (in Indonesia and Philippines) and agriculture (in Central America and Western Africa). Currently CLM initiatives can be found in all areas of IPEC intervention including the informal and illicit sectors. More recently, CLM has been integrated into the design of Time Bound Programmes.

The earlier child labour monitoring initiatives were developed as a response to international pressure on specific export industries and the main objective was the monitoring of workplaces. Two well-known examples of this are the Bangladesh garment industry (BGMEA) project starting in 1995 and the Sialkot soccer ball industry project in Pakistan starting in 1997. Both projects developed specific monitoring procedures and tools with monitoring carried out by professional and skilled workplace monitoring teams.

These initial experiences highlighted the importance of combining social protection with the monitoring activity at an early stage of the initiative, in order to provide viable alternatives for children withdrawn from work. With the Central America coffee and agriculture projects, the concept of "community-based monitoring" became more fully developed. Using local resource persons and awareness-raising approaches to mobilize communities, these projects began to demonstrate the capacity of non-traditional actors to monitor child labour. These and other child labour monitoring initiatives have contributed to the evolution of the concept of CLM over recent years. The focus has shifted from monitoring the industry to monitoring the child as s/he is removed from work and provided with social protection services. The attention has also moved from the "withdrawal" of children from work to a coordinated child protection effort involving the identification, referral, verification and tracking that targeted children are provided with satisfactory alternatives. Lastly a change has occurred from monitoring specific target sectors to an area-based approach to monitor all types of child labour in larger geographical areas.