Child rights organization Educo calls for critical support to ensure the working children and their families have access to quality education, flexible learning opportunities, and social safety net programs.
June 10, 2021 -- In line with the World Day Against Child Labor, Educo warns that more children will likely be forced to work in hazardous labor even in the post-pandemic situation, as many struggling families will still need to mitigate the financial impact of the crisis and repay long-term debts.
Pilar Orenes, CEO of Educo, says: "As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, we fear that many of the poorest families who have suffered extreme financial strain or sudden income loss over the past year will not be able to recover even as the economy slowly opens up. As a result, many children already engaged in child labor will be forced to accept worse conditions than last year, either by working long hours, getting little pay, or, worse, give up school indefinitely. Many children are simply desperate to hold on to their jobs even if when they know it could potentially harm their chances to finish school."
For Sumaya, 13, a child working in Dhaka, Bangladesh, there is hardly any choice but to endure the 12-hour shift working in a clothes shop where she gets 42 USD a month. She explained: "If I don't work, my family will starve. I am repaying all my due house rents of last year through my income and ensuring food for me and my mother. If I wouldn't have the scope to work, we would definitely have to starve, just like last year's lockdown." said Sumaya. "I loved studying and wanted to pursue my career being a teacher. But everything seems uncertain now. Even if the schools reopen, I am not sure if I can join because my work time clashes with the school's timing.", she added.
According to Educo, the fact that schools are still closed in many countries due to COVID-19 requires states to redouble their efforts to ensure that all children have access to quality distance education and to put in place effective measures to prevent school dropouts and prevent the entry of children dropping out into the labour market. At the policy level, Educo promotes that no child should be involved in any form of child labour at least until he or she has completed compulsory education. This measure should be regulated by law in all countries where the age of entry to work is below the age at which compulsory education ends.
Pilar Orenes adds: "The issue of child labor is extremely complex as it is rooted in poverty and inequality. It is critical that we address the economic vulnerability of the families of the working children. But more importantly, we need to guarantee safe, inclusive, and quality education and as well as provide life skills through technical and vocational training to children so that they can transition to decent work. We ought to listen to children and actively engage them in dialogues on child labor so that actions are based on their needs and sensitive to their realities."
Another working child, Liza, 13, living in Bangladesh, says that children should be given chance to study while working. "If we could continue work and studies simultaneously it would have been better. Though I wanted to be a doctor, my dream has shattered for now. I only want to stay happy in the future and being a doctor can give me happiness. After being a doctor, I want to serve my parents and others in need. I don't like to work as a house help, I only love to study. I wish I could do another job except for this."
Educo is a global development NGO focused on education child protection and child participation, which works in 14 countries carrying out projects in which more than 800,000 children and young people participate.
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