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Solutions sought for child labour in Cambodia

By: Chun Sophal and The Mekong Times Posted: June-11-2008 in
Chun Sophal and The Mekong Times

One million and a half child laborers in Cambodia are losing out on a decent education, with their arduous childhoods often ruining their lives and damaging the nation's economy, participants at the World Day Against Child Labor told audience members yesterday. The event, launched yesterday at national TV station TVK, was entitled "Education is a solution to child labor in Cambodia," and was hoped to encourage parents to end their children to school and not work. There are a million and a half child laborers in Cambodia with 250,000 engaged in heavy labor, said Prak Chantha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. These children are working in factories, brick kilns, salt fields, fishing lots and rubber plantations, he said.

The ministry, thanks to cooperation with the International Labor Organidation (ILO) and International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), has encouraged the parents of 16,000 children to remove them from these dangerous workplaces in the past few years, he added. This was done by stressing the importance of education, a task in which local monks played a key role, added Prak Chantha. "Monks play an impor- tant role in pushing children towards education. In the past, monks provided informal education to children through teaching motorcycle repair, sewing and cutting clothes…" MP Joseph, chief technical advisor to child labor. Heavy child labor affects the national economy… If we all participate in solving this problem this figure of one million and a half children laboring in Cambodia can be reduced, — soon," he said. He added that in 2009 funds from the US government and ILO/ IPEC will focus more on child health and vulnerable laborers like flower sellers, shoe shiners and garbage scavengers.

The Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational recently said that the government plans to have reduced child labor to 8 percent of the nation's under-15s by 2015, a figure as high as 13.3 percent in 2005. Earlier this year local rights group Licadho revealed the plight of some 400 to 500 8- to 10-year-olds living a precarious existence in antiquated brick-kilns operating in Battambang province. The children, who do not receive any educational or health care services, often work in horrendous conditions for a daily salary of 1,000 riel (about US$0.24). The children often develop chest conditions and are burned in the kilns, said the report.

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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