Athletic apparel giant Reebok International Ltd has awarded a grant to aid agency US Fund for Unicef to educate child labourers in southern Asia.

The $250,000 grant, to be distributed over the next three years, was issued as part of the 2004 Reebok Human Rights Award ceremony this week.

According to US Fund for Unicef president Charles Lyons, many child labourers in developing countries were denied education, basic health care and adequate nutrition.

"Exploitative child labour is an unconscionable practice that must end," he said.

"Unicef recognises that this is a fight that cannot be won without allies in the private sector.

"Reebok's grant is a welcome partnership that we hope will become a trend."

The Asian and Pacific regions harbour a total of 127.3 million child labourers in the five-to-14-year-old age group.