Child Labour in the Chocolate Industry

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth


In this activity, the students learn about the social, economic and environmental costs of the production of chocolate.

The students learn about the impact of the cocoa production on the environment and on the use of child labour and trafficking.


stopwatchThree 45 minute lessons

circular-line-with-word-age-in-the-center13 – 21 years old

group-of-three-men-standing-side-by-side-hugging-each-otherGroups of up to 28


Behavioural competences

  • To consume more sustainably with consideration to fair trade


To reflect how personal consumption and life-style affects someone on the other side of the world
To reflect upon labour rights and child labour
To reflect upon the production environment of the products we consume

Lifelong learning key competences

  • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
  • Social and civic competencies
  • Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology


Access to video cameras (can be the students’ smartphones)
Computer with an editing program


Familiarise yourself with the issue of child labour and the prevalence in the cocoa and chocolate industry in West Africa.


First three classes:

Introduce the topic child labour

Emphasise that children have the right to get an education and to leisure, but that in some countries these rights are frequently violated. Cocoa farmers in West Africa often have a low income which means that they are not able to pay their workers a sufficient salary. Therefore, children have to work in cocoa farms to help provide for their families. If the work is harming children’s health, is dangerous, or keeps the children from getting an education it is considered abusive and unacceptable by the international community.[1]

Facilitate a brainstorm about child labour. What comes into the students’ mind when they hear the term?

Provide the students with a definition of child labour:

“The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
  • interferes with their schooling by:
  • depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
  • obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
  • requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”[2]

Make a movie:

Divide the students into groups of 4-8. Ask them to do research further upon the issue of child labour on the internet. Ask them to make a small movie on child labour in the cocoa industry. The movie should present facts about child labour and about the chocolate production. Tell them that the movie should be presenting the human and ecological costs of the using child labour in the chocolate production (dangerous work, bad for the health, keeping children out of school) and also present possible solutions to the eradication of child labour.

Make the students find literature and statistics. They can use some of the literature that is listed under “further information” and find their own sources.

They can film it with video cameras, or if they have smart phones, they can use them. After filming, let the students edit the video clips on a computer to make them into one movie.

[1] Make Chocolate Fair! Campaign, “Human Rights and Child Labour,”

[2] International Labour Organization, “What is child labour,”–en/index.htm


Fourth Class:

Show the movies in the class. After watching all of the movies, discuss the issues and solutions that were brought up.

Follow up suggestions

The time for this activity is indicative. You can choose to make it a larger or smaller project depending on how it fits into the curriculum.

As an alternative to making movies, the students can write an essay or make group presentations on the topic, reflecting on the impacts of child labour and the production’s impacts on the environment.

Show the students the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate by Miki Mistrati and U. Robin Romano, Made in Copenhagen (2012)

Child labour happens in countries all over the world and is not an issue that is reserved to the cocoa industry. As an alternative to all students working with the same issue, the students can research upon different cases of child labour and thus get a broader knowledge upon the issue.

For example, child labour also remains a problem in Europe: Council of Europe, Child labour in Europe: a persisting challenge,” 2013,

Ideas for actions

  • Look for the fair trade labels when you buy chocolate;
  • Together with the students, identify which actions individuals can take to limit child labour. Make an awareness raising campaign in your local community to combat child labour.

Further information

The Sustainable Development Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) targets:

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” 1989,

Make Chocolate Fair! Campaign, ”Human Rights and Child Labour,”

International Cocoa Initiative:

Global Chocolate and Cocoa Industry, “Working Towards the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West African Cocoa Farming Communities,”

International Labor Organization, “Africa: Child Labor in Cocoa Fields/ Harkin-Engel Protocol,”–en/index.htm

International Labour Organization, “What is child labour,”–en/index.htm

International Labour Organization, “Worst forms of child labour,”–en/index.htm

International Labour Organization, “Child labour statistics,”–en/index.htm

UNICEF data and resources on child labour:

Slave Free Chocolate:

Elliot J. Schrage and Anthony P. Ewing, “The Cocoa Industry and Child Labour,” (mainly for teachers).