Over the last 3 years, Stop Child Labour partners have been implementing the Omar’s Dream project to strengthen and expand child labour free zones in 9 African countries. Child labour free zones (CLFZ) are geographical areas where all children are systematically being withdrawn from labour and (re)integrated into formal, full-time schools. In Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Morocco child labour free zones have been established and in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso preparations have been made for the implementation of child labour free zones. Omar’s Dream has been inspired by the experiences of the Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation (MVF) in India, which has worked on getting children out of work and into school for almost 25 years. It uses an area-based approach that aims to eradicate all forms of child labour and create child labour free zones where children do not work and receive regular, full-time and quality education.
To describe and document the area-based approach towards child labour free zones and to find out whether, how and why it works and whether the results are sustainable, an evaluation has been conducted in the six African countries where the CLFZ model has been implemented as well as in India . There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ version of the approach; it is not a fixed recipe. In each context, the approach is applied with varying components depending on the local context and implementing organisations’ understanding. The explicit aim of this evaluation has been to capture and critically assess this ‘diversity in uniformity’. A particular focus has been placed on the effectiveness and sustainability of the Child Labour Free Zone model.
During the three years that Omar’s Dream project has been operational, implementing organisations have taken the CLFZ concept to a large number of communities and several thousand children have been withdrawn from child labour and placed in formal education. But child labour still exists, and hence the project’s purpose is still relevant. Accumulated experience makes it obvious that efforts conducted in pursuit of the CLFZ model need to be pursued further.