Initiatives against child labor continue

Child labor is still a cause for concern in the Province of Iloilo. According to statistics gathered by the ABK2 Initiative of World Vision International, as of September 2009, there are 2,104 children who are engaged in child labor and 546 at risk of becoming child laborers in the municipalities of Ajuy (727), Duenas (436), Estancia (721), Iloilo City (157) and San Enrique (609).

Most of these numbers are in the sugarcane plantations, where 1,125 children are working there, followed by 701 who are into scavenging, 452 in fishing, 362 in domestic work, six in commercial sexual exploitation and four in agriculture.

RISKS

Child laborers expose themselves to risks. According to the statistics provided by the National Survey on Children 2001, National Statistics Office, 2.4-million of four million children (59 percent) were exposed to chemical, physical and/or biological hazards. The chemical hazards are silica dust, saw dust, oil, gasoline, mercury, mist, fumes, vapors, ammonia, to name a few. The physical hazards are noise, temperature, humidity, pressure, inadequate illumination, slip/trip/fall hazards, radiation, etc. The biological hazards are viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic.

BREAKING THE LAW

To those who are not aware of this yet, exposing the child who is under 18 years old to child labor is violating the law.

Republic Act 9231 is an act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child, amending Republic Act 7610, as amended, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.” This act applies to children below 18 years old. The violation of this act would mean imprisonment of one month until six years and a fine of not less than P50,000 and not more than P300,000. Those who can file a case against the offender are the offender party, the parents or guardians (most of the times, they are the offending parties), ascendant or collateral relative within the third degree of consanguinity; officer, social worker or representative of a licensed child-caring institution; officer or social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Barangay chairman of the place where the violation occurred, where the child is residing or employed; or at least three concerned, responsible citizens where the violation occurred.”

KEEPING THEM IN SCHOOL

Children have rights to enjoy their childhood and that includes the right to a good education. But, due to poverty, they are forced or they themselves volunteer to help their parents in earning money.

Some children help out because they want extra money to go to school. However, they are the ones who do not perform well in school because instead of spending time studying, they help their parents in jobs like fishing, scavenging and the like. Take the case of Jeff, who used to be late in school. His former teacher, Ma. Edelyn Capanas of Estancia National High School, said that by 4 in the afternoon, Jeff already rushes home, which is three kilometers from the school. After that, he would join his father in “taksay” fishing (mostly catching shrimps and crabs) and this would last until 4 in the morning. Then, Jeff would prepare for school. While in school, he ends up dozing off, wasting his opportunity to learn.

With World Vision International’s ABK2 Initiative, Jeff no longer had to help his father because the said organization funded his education, as well as his school supplies and some groceries. Jeff stayed in school and is already doing well in his studies and enjoying his childhood.

ABK2 Initiative is a four-year project funded by the United States Department of Labor implemented by World Vision Development Foundation in the municipalities of Ajuy and Estancia. The project aims to contribute to the sustainable reduction of exploitive child labor through education. To date, they have already assisted 1,500 children in their educational needs.

TRAINING TEACHERS

Another way to ensure that child laborers are not left behind in their studies and for them to look forward to going to school, the ABK2 Initiative trained teachers into becoming better mentors, not just classroom teachers, per se. According to Daphne Calanag, project director of the ABK2 Initiative, the trained teachers become partners in social development, they acquired skills in research, advocacy and networking, become more animated in teaching like using play and games, and become documentors.

Under the ABK2 Initiative, good performing students are also trained to become “little teachers” who help out other students in the catch-up class every Saturday. This class lasts for two hours.
Calanag noted improvements in the children’s school performance because of this initiative.
Mildred Garay, Department of Educational Regional Director said that she plans to replicate the ABK2 Initiative’s sytem to the rest of the provincial schools. She urged the ABK2 teachers from Estancia and Ajuy, to document their best practices and share them with the Department. “Hopefully, we could implement this in the next school year,” she said.

(Published in The News Today)

Check out these popular posts, too

Hip-hop dancer turned entrepreneur helps people get jobs

Guimaras: the island that fits your taste

Balay Binhi: raising kind and creative individuals

More job opportunities up for Ilonggos in Iloilo Business Park

SM City Iloilo launches solar panels

Sino ang panalo? Ang bully or ang api?

The San Lorenzo Wind Farm and a brighter future for renewable energy

10 must-eats at DoVa Brunch Cafe

Amid poverty, these Ilonggo moms raised successful children

The inspiring story of ‘Fish’