Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ILO calls on govt and schools to reduce child labor

National News - February 16, 2007
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The International Labor Organization (ILO) urged the government to take a comprehensive approach to eliminating the worst forms of child labor, with schools playing a key role in keeping children out of work.

The organization has set up a partnership with the government and other stakeholders to design school-related schemes to bring down the current figure of 3.2 million children in work.

"In cooperation with the World Bank, the ILO has supported the government's conditional cash transfer scheme to encourage poor families to send their school-age children to school, withdrawing child laborers from risky workplaces," ILO media officer Gita Lingga said Wednesday.

Gita added that the organization was also proposing to the Education Ministry that it focus part of its school funding, known as the school operational allowance, on enabling poor families to send their children to school.

"The ministry has accepted the ILO's comprehensive approach to empowering poor families to afford expensive education and to help make the nine-year compulsory education program a success," Gita said.

ILO said that child labor numbers are expected to multiply, reflecting the prolonged economic hardship affecting 19.2 million poor families.

More school-age children are becoming involved in the worst forms of child labor, such as prostitution and drug trafficking.

A 2005 study by the Atmajaya Catholic University in Jakarta found out of 500 drug users aged up to 18 studied, 92 percent were also involved in drug trafficking, with 94 percent of them being boys.

According to the ILO's 2002-2003 assessment, more than 28,000 women work as sex workers in Jakarta with 5,100 of them aged below 18.

Another ILO spokesperson, Abdul Hakim, said the organization was speaking with the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Unions, the All-Indonesian Workers Union and the Indonesian Trade Union to improve their participation in monitoring the implementation of the school operational allowance scheme, to ensure it was reaching its intended beneficiaries.

"The ILO has also enhanced cooperation with civil society to provide vocational training, open elementary and high schools for under-18-year-old children and to move child laborers from risky employment to safe employment.

In the last two years, the ILO and NGOs have been concentrating on withdrawing child laborers in risky jobs in the mining, fishery and manufacturing sectors in North Sumatra, Jakarta, East Java and East Kalimantan," he said.

To enforce the ILO convention on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, Indonesian labor laws and the child protection law, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry has set up a national committee for the elimination of child labor. The Ministry will use its provincial branches to encourage local governments to step up their efforts to tackle child labor.


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