In commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labor being held this week, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano turned his attention to one of society’s underrepresented sectors: the youth.
Cayetano urged the government to create more opportunities for Filipino families to address the rising number of child laborers in the country, particularly those who drop out of school to work in hazardous conditions.
“There is no room for the practice of child labor in a growing Philippine economy,” he said.
Cayetano expressed concern over the rising number of child laborers in the country. He cited a report by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicating that there are currently 5.5 million child laborers aged 5-17 in the country, around 3 million of which are exposed to environments that are considered hazardous brought by poor working conditions.
Cayetano also noted an International Labor Organization (ILO) study that showed that the dropout rate for elementary students has increased over the last three years from an average of 5.99 percent in 2007-2008 to 6.28 percent in 2009-2010.
“It is truly disheartening to find out that while the government tries to provide free elementary and high school, orphaned children and those from poor families still opt to work and abandon school due to worsening poverty situation that leads to high prices, lack of jobs, and low income,” he said.
Cayetano stressed that in response to these alarming statistics, the government must generate more jobs and programs like those that he has suggested as part of his PTK (Presyo, Trabaho, Kita) legislative agenda to address the livelihood woes of the country.
“If the parents of these children have jobs and the means to provide for their families, these children would not have to resort to working just to help make ends meet,” he said as he reiterated his proposal of launching a second-phase Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program dubbed CCT II to help CCT beneficiaries get access to capital to start their own businesses.
Cayetano has also proposed an Education to Employment program that will enable young Filipinos to get quality education and appropriate employment upon graduation that matches their skills.
“The high price of education is a deterrent for poor children to gain access to quality education. We need to solve this because education is the sure way out of poverty for our country’s youth,” he said.