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School Promotion

Another important part of social engineering concerns school promotion. It will be recalled from earlier that the normativity of Western Childhood holds that ‘school is where children should be.’ It casts school as ‘children’s work’ and avers that minors should remain in formal education instead of entering the labour market for as long as is possible. Accordingly, when I

Anti-trafficking Poster 2

Fig. 2.2 Anti-trafficking Poster 2

asked anti-traffickers the question, ‘In an ideal world, how would you stop trafficking?,’ the most common response I received was, ‘By getting all children into school.’ Idyl was an EU project representative in Cotonou when we spoke, and she went further still. ‘For me,’ she said, ‘the best thing we could do would be to pass (and enforce!) a law obliging all children to go to school, and to make that school really free.’

Naturally, this is reflected in anti-trafficking policy. For just as school promotion has long been a pillar of anti- child labour work, so too is it central to anti- child trafficking. IPEC received no less than $16m in 2008 for a project aimed at tackling child labour and trafficking in the Global South through the promotion of education.9 When I interviewed its representative in Geneva, he explained that ‘our goal is elimination; education is a means to get there.’ This holds too in Benin, where the POA recommends an increase in schooling as one of the major axes through which the country can end trafficking (MFE and ILO 2008: 66) (Fig. 2.3).

It is important to note, however, that getting children into school represents a general end for the international child protection community as well as a key means for achieving the specific goal of preventing trafficking. On the one hand, school is ‘where children should be,’ and so ensuring that they’re there is important. On the other, having them in school is believed to prevent them from departing for work and ultimately ending up in situations of exploitation or trafficking. So promoting school is at

Roadside school promotion poster

Fig. 2.3 Roadside school promotion poster

one and the same time a measure to foster the kind of childhood desired by the policy establishment and to diminish the likelihood of trafficking by reducing the child’s propensity to migrate.

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