The need to educate parents against child labor and provide them with livelihood skills to address poverty was stressed by five speakers at the plenary session of the National Conference for the Protection and Development of Children in the Sugar Industry at L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City, yesterday.
Giovanni Soledad, project officer of the International Labor Organization-Manila, said that to address child labor, education and prevention have to begin in homes.
He said they have developed an area-based integrated approach, a child labor monitoring system that will help them identify children engaged in labor to serve as their basis for action.
Edith Villanueva, executive director of the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc. said, SIFI has programs for maternal and child care for farm workers, and others with free health services, on top of numerous skills training programs for alternative livelihoods.
Villanueva said SIFI is now offering sugarcane technician courses on land preparation, financial management and human resource work so that graduates will have job opportunities.
Meanwhile, Jaime Golez, National Federation of Sugar Planters vice president for Western Visayas, said that child labor is a problem that cannot be solved by one sector alone but by everybody.
Child labor is caused by economic poverty, a family that lacks income makes their children work, though it can prevented by providing them skills to have alternative sources of livelihood, he added.
He said education is just one part of preventing child labor. If skills are provided, then the business sector can give them opportunities where they can apply what they learn.
“If you train a person to have the skills and there are no opportunities, then it is still useless,” Golez said, adding that it is economic upliftment that will solve the problem on child labor.
The NFSP offers skills trainings and scholarships to children of their members and has had about 2,761 scholars since 2004, Golez said.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Negros Occidental has three provincial training centers that offer skills trainings for call center agents, welding, national competencies in computer applications, cooking, and others, TESDA provincial director Lorena Yunque, said.
The centers are in the cities of Talisay, Kabankalan, and Cadiz.*LTG