Child labour, trafficking in Fiji tackled
The People's Community Network says it has helped hundreds of child labourers into a formal education in Fiji.
The People's Community Network says it has helped hundreds of child labourers from squatter settlements into a formal education in Fiji.
Groups involved in the Tackling Child Labour Through Education project, or TACKLE, organised by the International Labour Organisation and funded by the European Union, met in Nadi this week.
The conference heard the project helped 1,147 at risk children out of labour, trafficking or exploitation in Fiji between 2008 to 2013.
PCN runs a bridging program to help child labourers reintegrate into the education system.
Its community facilitator, Ana Roverove told Mary Baines some children do not want to go to school.
ANA ROVEROVE: We identified 250 children. We sent to school about 150 children. Because most of the children did go through bridging but they were not very keen about going back to school. So we couldn't force the children, it was the children's choice.
MARY BAINES: So what ages are we talking here?
AR: Six to 17, between the ages of six and 17.
MB: And what kind of work were they involved in?
AR: Scrap metal, looking around for scrap metal, working in garages, selling food parcels in the evening, and some had gone to a stage where they were used for sexual abuse. But that was left as a confidential case.
MB: So there was some sex trafficking in children that you found?
AR: Yes, right.
MB: So your role is to help these kids back into school?
AR: Yes. What I normally do, is there is three of us, and we normally go to communities and talk with our community reps, we have reps in communities who lead us to families where the children live, and then we talk to the parents. And they only go through the bridging program if the child agrees.
MB: So sometimes the child doesn't agree, and there's not much you can do at all?
AR: Yes, we can't do anything more about that.
MB: Do you think some of the children actually want to work?
AR: Yes. Because what we saw is that when children are employed, they have a feel that they earn money, so it's better for them to be at work than to be in school. Because in school they are sent by their parents, they are there but they don't get money with them going to school. But the majority of them, not really all of them, they help with the money they get to their families. We organise vocational schools for them, at least to have qualifications in the jobs they were doing and maybe for them to receive better pay than the money they were receiving. That's for the children who are more into leaving school at the age of 17 and 18.
MB: Going forward, what do you hope happens in this whole area?
AR: For PCN as an organisation, I hope the ILO will continue to fund the TACKLE program. Because with that, there will be for example children who reach the ages of 17 that want to continue to tertiary education. I think ILO needs to continue, so that children can really get employed, not just helped in school and then from there, there's no more help. Because right now most of the children that we help, they really need financial assistance.
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