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Unions, employers, government, NGOs use football to help end child labor

Traditional adversaries such as unions and employers, government and NGOs have decided to play for one team as they battle child labor in fierce competition until 2016.

“Go for the Goal: End Child Labor!” is the theme for this year’s celebration of the World Day Against Child Labor (WDACL).

“It capitalizes on the football craze brought about by the FIFA World Cup in South Africa to turn the world’s attention to the need to eliminate child labor,” said Julius Cainglet, spokesperson of the Federation Free Workers (FFW) one of the event organizers from the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC).

“The game of football characterizes the struggle to end child labor,” he added.

Stories of hope

Locally, all eyes will be on Don Bosco Youth Center, Tondo, Manila host of this year’s celebration. Don Bosco is at the center of urban Manila where a lot of children are forced to take shelter in the streets and where there is a very high risk of getting into child labor.

The affair will be graced by the Philippine Miracle Team, a group of former street kids who were formed into a cohesive unit and came out as champions of an international street kids football tilt held in South Africa earlier this year.

“One of the goals is for these young booters to interact with fellow children, most of them former child laborers, so they may be inspired by one another with their stories of hope,” Cainglet said.

Most of the members of the Philippine Miracle Team are housed in Tuloy Foundation of Don Bosco in Alabang, while a couple them are based in the halfway house of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Of course, the child laborers will get to learn the basics of football, too,” Cainglet said.

“The WDACL celebration is meant to tackle the worst forms of child labor with renewed urgency,” added Cainglet. Tackle is a defensive move in football where a defender successfully steals the ball from an opponent.

Attacking Child labor

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has noted that worldwide, there has been a drop in child labor but it has not been enough to keep pace with the deadline of 2016 it has set for itself to end child labor. Some 215 million children around the globe are still into child labor, with 115 million of them engaged in its worst forms.

While there is a general perception that child labor has gone down in the Philippines, the dearth of validated information, has prevented it from coming out with scientific evidence to support this claim. Decade old statistics from the NSO peg their number at around 4 million.

“The gap in the knowledge management system is one of the many areas that the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) wishes to address,” said Cainglet.

Thus, one of the calls for the WDACL is to have a view of the progress made towards the realization of the PPACL, as well as to revisit the challenges of the same.

Years of progress in “attacking” child labor eventually led to the establishment three years ago, of the PPACL –a framework in “kicking out” the social problem.

Usec. Romeo Lagman of the Department of Labor and Employment outlined these achievements through different interventions by the Department and its social partners.

“Education is of course on top of the agenda if you want to meaningfully address child labor,” added Cainglet. It is for this reason that the Department of Education chairs the Education Subgroup of the NCLC, while a host of other education advocacy NGOs are part of it.

Also adding luster to the occasion was the presence of newly re-elected Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim. He reiterated the City of Manila’s commitment to provide a better future for children.

Member-states of the International Labor Organization (ILO) have commemorated June 12 as World Day Against Child Labor (WDACL) since 2002 to highlight the plight of children who are forced to work for survival.The Philippine usually celebrates it days before or after June 12 so as not to conflict with the celebration of Independence Day.

The Philippines is one of the first countries which ratified ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in 1999. This led to the enactment of Republic Act 9231, which provided for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and stronger protection for working children.

The Philippines is also a signatory to ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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