Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams! – this was the call from the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s World Day Against Child Labour celebrations in Geneva last week.
Celebrated internationally on the 12th of June, the World Day against Child Labour is all about protecting the poor and the innocent, those forced to work from an early age, and how to reduce their numbers year by year.
The festive day was closely followed by the International Labour Conference, held on the 13th of June, in Geneva, Switzerland. The event brings together governments’, workers’ and employers’ delegations from the ILO member States. The Secretary-General of Amnesty International and human rights activist, Kumi Naidoo was a keynote-speaker at the conference. He mentioned that the world is in need of a system transformation, re-design and innovation. This year’s conference was punctuated by the special launch of a new Music Module, the latest addition to their SCREAM (Supporting Children’s Rights through Education, the Arts and the Media) education programme.
JM International’s Executive Director Blasko Smilevski spoke at the event saying “The new Music Module is a wonderful achievement, and music is an undoubted means to address this pressing issue, but, music cannot do it alone, we need to work together, across sectors and disciplines to tackle child labour and end it for good”.
A local children's choir performed in celebration of the new SCREAM Music Module, showcasing how music can be a powerful tool to inspire and spread messages of solidarity.
SCREAM and the Cathartic Role of Art
If we take a look back in time, we see that child labour has been addressed in literature even in the 19th century, by no other than the renowned French writer Victor Hugo, who wrote in Melancholia, Les Contemplations, Book III:
Where are the children going, who know no laughter?
These sweet, pensive beings wasted away by fever?
The eight year old girls we see walking all alone?
The ones going to work fifteen hours in the mines.
From dawn to dusk, they must eternally perform
The same motion over and over in this prison.
Today the ILO takes a comprehensive approach to combating child labour and compliments their core work through the purest and most impressing form of expression: ART. The cathartic role of art has been recognized since the Ancient times and its power travels through the ages in order to empower those in need.
Launched in 2002, SCREAM is comprised of powerful modules such as: Image, Role-play, Creative Writing, Drama and now Music.
SCREAM supports child participation and youth empowerment, providing children and young people the knowledge and means to act – through the arts and media. This new SCREAM module on Music is the fifteenth “core” module of the SCREAM Education Pack, designed to be used in conjunction with its other key modules including Basic Information, Image, Role-play and Drama.
The Music Against Child Labour Initiative
With 152 million girls and boys still trapped in child labour, a program like the new SCREAM Music Module is more than necessary. But this is not the first music foray that the organisation has made. In 2013, the ILO and its partners, including JM International, the International Federations of Musicians and FESNOJIV, created the Music Against Child Labour Initiative.
Art, especially music, has no boundaries. Its capacity to cut through layers of age, race, social status and even language make it a powerful resource when it comes to combating social injustice. The Music against Child Labour Initiative calls on musicians to donate songs and concerts to the fight against child labour, raising global awareness.
The New Music Module
A part of growing up is the search to find your own voice. When you’ve found something to say, you need spaces and people to share it with. The new Music Module offers them a platform for collaboration and community development, empowering young people to create music collectively and present it to inspire and enlighten.
Implementing the new Music Module is not difficult at all, the course is available free online giving educators and organizers the necessary tools they need in order to get going.
The document is full of examples and methods that combine the intrinsic musical talents of young people and children with ways to discuss an reflect on issues child labour, integrating them into the music making process.
Implementing the New Music Module
Do you want to transform hundreds of children and help them express themselves musically and socially? Become a teacher of the new SCREAM Music Module!
When it comes to implementing the module, a lack of instruments or musical talent is no excuse. The only thing that matters is the inner drive of the teacher and group to make a difference and have fun! As a teacher, you can, for instance, enable the children to use their own bodies as their instruments, build home-made instruments and just work with the power of their voices.
Do you believe a lack of texts could be an impediment? Nonsense! Just choose a word related to child labour and ask the kids to find words that rhymes – it may be no Leonard Cohen - but it’s a great start and who knows where it could take you and the group!
The new SCREAM Music Module was designed by JM International in collaboration by the Music Against Child Labour partners. It is a ray of hope, a sounding ideal which can surely be transformed into reality. The methods will help anyone interested in the field implement the module, no matter your level of musical knowledge. When it comes to child labour, you need no high-tech equipment to speak your mind, you just an open heart and a song.