WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR: Salesian Missions Highlights Educational Programs That Fight Against Child Labor
(MissionNewsire) Salesian Missions joins the International Labor Organization and other organizations around the globe in honoring World Day Against Child Labor. Launched in 2002, the day focuses attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on June 12, the United Nations, governments, employers and workers organizations, and civil society as well as millions of people from around the globe highlight the plight of child laborers and what can be done to help them.
The International Labor Organization sets a theme for World Day Against Child Labor corresponding to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme is focused on child labor and supply chains and highlights that with globalization supply chains have become increasingly complex, involving workers, small producers, and enterprises around the world. The organization notes, that while most child labor occurs in production for domestic markets, children can also be found working in the production of goods and services for export.
The International Labor Organization’s World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young people notes that 168 million children are engaged in illegal forms of labor, mostly in the informal economy and agriculture – all supply chains. Eighty-five million of these children work in severely hazardous conditions. Several millions more are victims of forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and other illicit activities.
According to the report, child labor is associated with lower educational attainment, and later in life with jobs that fail to meet basic decent work criteria. Those who leave school early are less likely to secure stable jobs and are at greater risk of chronic unemployment and poverty. For the majority of those who have left school early, particularly between the ages of 15 to 17, many of these children are engaged in work that is hazardous and classified as the worst forms of child labor.
“Children who are compelled to work, even for a fraction of the day, are deprived of the education they need to learn valuable skills that lead to stable employment later in life,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Unfortunately, in many situations, children are being forced to work around the clock with barely enough time to eat, let alone study, and their prospects in life are diminished.”
In honor of World Day Against Child Labor 2016, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs around the globe that help to eliminate child labor through quality education.
Started in 1992, the Casa Maín girl’s home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, provides shelter, nutritious meals and schooling for girls and young women with little access to education and those who were once living on the streets. Currently, there are more than 160 girls living and being educated at the home. Casa Maín is comprised of three houses and the girls are divided among them by age. The youngest girls, attending elementary school, live together in one house supported by several volunteer students from the secondary school. A second house provides shelter and peer support for girls attending secondary school while a third house is for young women attending the local university.
The university students enjoy a setting that allows them to finish their degrees in higher education in a stable environment while learning how to live independently. In addition to academic classes, the young women and girls at the home learn skills in communication and conflict management. Additional classes in dance, gymnastics and crafts are provided in the evenings and on weekends. Most recently, the organization offered a three-week technology workshop to teach the girls basic computer skills including typing, word processing and drawing.
India has the largest number of child laborers under the age of 14 in the world, according to UNICEF. Many are engaged in dangerous occupations and live on the streets. As part of Operation Smile, a month long program initiated by India’s Home Ministry, more than 200 children engaged in child labor in Hyderabad, the capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana, were rescued and placed with Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Navajeevan, a home for street and working children. According to Salesian reports, the children were rescued by city police in an apartment building where they were engaged in child labor for the bangle manufacturing industry. The children were being paid very low wages, forced to work long hours and forbidden from leaving their place of work. Further, their work exposed them to chemicals and hazardous working conditions.
Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. Once youth are brought to Salesian-run centers they receive shelter, food and clothing. Salesian programs for the rescued youth focus on education and life skills training to help them break the cycle of poverty in order to lead productive lives free from abuse and forced labor. In addition, supplementary classes cater to those who have missed school and have fallen behind academically. This necessary extra assistance enables them to enter back into mainstream schools.
The Bosco Children Project has established a new orientation program called “Come and See” which serves close to 30 boys who are living on the streets. Every morning the boys are picked up by bus and taken to the center. At the center, boys work, play sports and attend classes where they learn to read and write. They also receive life skills training on social morality, civic responsibility, hygiene, and professional ethics. In the evening, the boys return to the streets. The goal is to provide boys with enough information and support to help them make the decision to enroll in the three year regular education course offered by the program.
If a boy is ready to enter the three-year course, he is provided a place to live in the Salesian-run youth hostel. His basic needs are provided for and he attends school and learns a trade. Salesian missionaries also provide workforce development services to help youth transition from the classroom into stable employment. Some students go on for further study at the university. For boys who do have a family, Salesian missionaries also offer assistance helping youth to reconnect with their families and settle into school in their village. When needed, Salesian missionaries will offer financial assistance so the boy can continue his education.
The Salesian-run Bosco Boys program provides education and technical skills training to former street children in Nairobi, Kenya and is currently serving more than 600 boys and girls in primary and secondary schools and universities. The program also operates two nursery schools in the slums of Kariua and Kuwinda.
Youth living in Nairobi’s slums are at-risk for exploitation, forced labor and other abuses. Few attend the later stages of school as compared to those living in Kenya’s more rural areas. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. UNICEF noted that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, youth in poverty still cannot afford to attend school resulting in close to 90 percent of children from poor households failing to complete their basic education. The Bosco Boys program provides education and workforce development opportunities. Students in the program who complete their primary education are assisted with secondary education or are advised to choose technical training in sister institutions. The secondary education is most often provided at Don Bosco Technical Secondary School, Embu, but can also be at another school close to a student’s home where they can be easily monitored.
International Labour Organization – New ILO study points to the long-term impact of child labour
International Labour Organization- World Day Against Child Labour