Published in 1998. In recent years research, as well as the results of practical programmes, has led to a clearer understanding of the relationship between child work and education. It is increasingly evident that child work is not entirely the result of economic need or exploitation. Frequently is the failure of educational system to offer adequate, stimulating and affordable schooling that encourages children to drop out in favour of work that appears to offer advantages more relevant to their everyday lives. Parents too may undervalue the role and purpose of a school that provides inadequate preparation for the future and often see a job, including home-based work, as a positive alternative to crime, delinquency or begging.
Consequently, while a distinction needs to be made between ‘formative child work’ and ‘harmful child work’, in certain situations and cultures the phenomenon is not always seen as negative. Yet, although gratifying in the short term and sometimes even providing the means for a younger child to attend school as well as a way of learning discipline and responsibility, often these jobs provide no useful experience and do not lead to an improvement in the personal development of life chances of a child. The situation is therefore complex and requires a more realistic evolution of the relationship between archaic pedagogy, dropout rates and child work.
These five case studies from Latin America all reveal the effects of inappropriate school curricular. Desertion of the educational system for the labour market leads to inadequate training and perpetuates the poverty trap. As part of the commitment to combating work which is detrimental to the child, major educational reform is needed. Improvements in coverage, quality and affordability should lead to greater acceptance pf schooling at all levels of society and provide a greater incentive for parents and children alike to participate more fully in the system. Moreover, in cases of severe economic hardship and forced or harmful labour, practical assistance with subsides and scholarships should be considered to remove children from such work.
1. Child Work and Education in Latin America Maria Cristina Salazar 2. Brazil: Children’s Strength is not in Their Work Irene Rizzini, Irma Rizzini and Fernanda Rosa Borges 3. Child Labour and Basic Education in Colombia Catalina Turbay and Elvia Maria Acuna 4. Child Work and Education in Ecuador Mauricio Gracia-Moreno 5. School and Work for Guatemalan Children Carlos Antonio Rodriguez L. 6.The Work and Education of Children in Peru Walter Alarcon Glasinovich 7. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations Maria Cristina Salazar and Walter Alarcon Glasinovich.
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