Labor Secretary Announces Grants to Counter Child Labor

The United States offers a $4 million grant to implement education programs for children removed from or at risk of entering child labor in El Salvador.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), the grantee, will work on the education component of what is known as a Timebound Program. The grant will supplement funding that the Labor Department has already contributed to the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) for projects in El Salvador.

"Education is pivotal not only to a child's development but indeed to a country's development," said Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who made the announcement about the grant this week. "Removing a child from hazardous, exploitative work is only half the battle. The other part of the solution is to provide a meaningful opportunity for a future through education."

The department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) made the grant under its Child Labor Education Initiative. Congress appropriated the funds for international programs that provide children with access to education in areas with a high incidence of exploitative and abusive child labor. ILAB's International Child Labor Program manages the programs.

The ILO and specific countries, including El Salvador, spearheaded the Timebound approach as a means to eliminate the worst forms of child labor within a defined time period through a set of integrated and comprehensive activities.

According to El Salvador's General Department of Statistics and Census, in 1999 an estimated 14.6 percent of the country's 1.1 million children between the ages of 10-17 worked. Almost a quarter of these children were not enrolled in school.

As part of the Timebound Program, the government of El Salvador and ILO/IPEC identified forms of exploitative labor from which children will be removed. Under the grant, the ILO will provide enhanced educational opportunities to the children targeted by the Timebound Program in six departments (states) in El Salvador.

These children include victims of commercial sexual exploitation, scavengers at dumpsites, and those working in sugar cane production and commercial fishing. The ILO will work closely with the government of El Salvador to develop model interventions that improve access to and the quality of education for the targeted children. These models will be expanded to address the educational needs of other children in the worst forms of child labor.

Two similar $4 million grants were awarded to World Education for work in Nepal and to the Education Development Center for work in Tanzania. The grantees will work with the host governments and ILO/IPEC to enhance educational alternatives for the targeted child workers in those countries.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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