Apathy biggest bar to ending child slavery: Nobel prize winner

Tue Dec 9, 2014 9:06am EST
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By Balazs Koranyi

OSLO (Reuters) - Apathy is the biggest obstacle to eliminating forced child labor and the world needs more secular education to reduce intolerance, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi said on Tuesday.

In Oslo, where he will receive the award on Wednesday, Satyarthi told Reuters the problem was not religion itself but people who hide behind it for economic and political gain.

"Education brings tolerance to societies, which brings peace, global brotherhood and mutual respect for each other," Satyarthi, 60, from India, said.

"There should be more value-oriented education with more human values," said Satyarthi, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai for their fight against the oppression of children and their right to education.

The United Nations estimates that around 150 million children are routinely engaged in paid or unpaid work with children in sub-Saharan Africa at greatest risk, where up to a quarter of those aged between 5 and 14 are forced to work.

"The single biggest difficulty has been apathy," Satyarthi said. "People are getting more and more materialistic and more consumeristic."

He said there was a lack of compassion around the world for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, who lacked the means and power to help themselves.

Education has been a major issue in India since the Hindu nationalist government came to power in May, with critics citing a move to teach the superiority of Hindu values and mythology at the cost of academic rigor, going against the grain of secularism that runs through multi-faith modern India.   Continued...

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi speaks during a news conference in Oslo December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett