Feature: Even poor children deserve education
by JMD Abangan
By Jean D. Abangan
Davao City (11 September) -- Children can still go to school even if they come from poor families.
World Vision Development Foundation Project Director Daphne de Guzman Culanag was emotional as she pointed out in an advocacy planning on child labor that poverty "should not be an excuse" for not sending children to school, thereby putting an end to child labor.
"Children need to be protected from all forms of abuse; children need to be provided with education, education is their right. It is our obligation as duty-bearers to give children their right to education," she said while citing the state as the primary duty-bearer.
The World Vision leads the coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs) in implementing an education initiative called ABK which are the first three letters of the Alibata, an old Filipino alphabet.
ABK form the acronym for Pag-aaral ng Bata para sa Kinabukasan (Education for the Children's Future) which is a special project for combating child labor through education in the Philippines, funded by the United States Department of Labor.
Christian Children's Fund (CCF), Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation, Inc. (ERDA), and Plan Philippines are with the World Vision in its bid to provide access to education to child laborers.
World Vision cited child labor and education of Filipino working children are "two of the most significant development challenges the Philippines is confronting today."
The Philippine government has identified six sectors where most cases of WFCL are found--- in sugarcane plantation, pyrotechnics, mining/quarrying, deep-sea fishing, domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation.
Culanag cited statistics revealing that four million Filipino children aged 5 to 17 are economically active and that 2.4 million of them are exposed to hazards, many of whom were working in worst forms of child labor (WFCL).
Of the 2.4 million Filipino child-laborers, 2 million have worked from one to four hours a day; 1.3 million worked from five to eight hours a day; and 360,000, for more than eight hours a day.
Assisting about 4,000 child-laborers in Southern Mindanao, the World Vision has only reached out to a total of 31,307 which she described as "only a drop in the bucket", Culanag said.
The Philippine Time-bound Program on Child Labor targets to reduce the 2.4 million child-laborers by 75 percent by 2015.
Culanag believes that not even a million child-laborers have been assisted out of their plight and given their right to education.
She urged for a wide dissemination of information on the plight of child-laborers and a strong advocacy against child-labor. (PIA) [top]