Norway supports child labor prevention in Laos

45 primary school children volunteers and their teachers from Xoat, Boungkouang and Pakkading-neua villages attended a six-day child labor prevention workshop organized in Pakkading district, Bolikhamxay province by Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union (LPRYU) in March.
     This project was implemented by LPRYU and supported by Save the Children Norway in Laos with the aims to introduce child labor and child work to the participants and to tackle child labor issues in their areas through the “Child-to-Child approach”.
     “Child work” is the work that most children do for a short while to help their parents performing menial domestic chores, for example, cooking, cleaning the house, feeding domestic animals…, whereas “child labour” is the work that children are asked or forced to do by their parents or commercially child labor exploiters; usually at the cost of children’s health, education and their holistic development.
     The above distinction, according to a press release, was made at the recent child labor prevention workshop.
     According to the press release, the participants also learnt how to compose songs and make dramas for later campaign to disseminate information to villagers.
     “When I first came here I didn’t know what child labor is. Now, I know what it is,” said an 11-year-old schoolgirl from Xoat primary school.
     “We are here to learn new things, especially child labor issues. Once we go back to our villages we will tell our friends and parents about the danger of child labor,” she said.
     A project coordinator from Save the Children Norway said these villages have been selected for the project because children there are found to be prone to child labor, and many of these youngsters cross the Mekong River on regular basis.
     Some children, especially from Boungkouang village, quit school. A number of these school drop-outs work in tobacco farms or shoulder heavy goods up and down steep Mekong River bank. Others cross the Mekong River to work in Thailand.
     “My sister is on a “tour” in Thailand for about a year now”, said a 10-year-old schoolboy from Boungkouang primary school. “She quit school years ago. I don’t know what she does in Thailand but my mum says that she’s on the “tour”. I want her to come home. I miss her.”
     Recognizing the danger of child labor, the children volunteers together with their teachers, and the staff at LPRYU are determined to get the child labor issue message across to young people, parents and community members in the target villages so that they are aware and have a good understanding about the issues. It is a high hope that this knowledge and understanding may in turn dwarf youngsters from engaging in hazardous jobs.

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