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close this bookAction Against Child Labour (ILO; 2000; 356 pages)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contents1. National policies and programmes
Open this folder and view contents2. Towards improved legislation
Open this folder and view contents3. Improving the knowledge base on child labour
close this folder4. Alternatives to child labour
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder4.1 STRATEGIES IN EDUCATION
View the documentEducating children about their rights and about child labour issues
View the documentInvestment in early childhood development programmes
View the documentIncreasing access to education
View the documentImproving the quality of formal and non-formal education
View the documentNon-formal education as an entry, a re-entry or alternative for (former) working children
View the documentApproaches to vocational education
View the documentChecklist 4.1 Identifying target groups and selecting children
View the documentChecklist 4.2 Planning vocational skills training programmes
View the documentChecklist 4.3 Measuring the impact of action programmes
Open this folder and view contents5. Strategies to address child slavery
Open this folder and view contents6. Strategies for employers and their organizations
Open this folder and view contents7. Trade unions against child labour
Open this folder and view contents8. Awareness-raising
Open this folder and view contents9. Action by community groups and NGOs
Open this folder and view contents10. Resources on child labour
View the documentOther ILO publications
View the documentBack Cover

Approaches to vocational education

Many non-formal education programmes for (former) working children include practical or vocational skills training components in the curriculum. Vocational training is often very popular among families which are prone to resort to child labour. Short-term vocational training is often combined with or delivered after functional literacy training and can provide immediate economic alternatives.

However, there are issues to resolve in the definition and approaches to vocational education. First, a distinction must be made between more formal vocational training, which is usually longer term and systematically linked to apprenticeship programmes, and less formal training. Most formal vocational programmes require close adult supervision and the available slots for students are limited.

There are also non-formal vocational training programmes linked to both formal and non-formal education programmes which are often short term and deal with specific skills and topics that are not necessarily marketable or highly productive. Non-formal education programmes can teach children skills that will provide immediate economic alternatives as well as psycho-social support. But these should not be viewed as a complete substitute for formal education, rather as transition programmes to facilitate the child's re-entry into the formal school system. In situations where there are no local institutions or schools offering such vocational education programmes, it may be necessary to provide scholarships.

Experience has shown that practical skills training in the form of "learning by doing", experiments and arts and crafts are an integral part of basic education. When (pre-) vocational training is included in non-formal education programmes, care should be taken to ensure that children and youth acquire basic skills which lay a foundation for training in specific trades or occupations. Vocational training should be geared to the provision of marketable skills that can be adapted to the changing needs in the job market. The gender bias in education is even more pronounced in the field of vocational training and specific attention needs to be given to facilitate girls' access. In most countries, better linkages need to be created between education and vocational training, and between non-formal and formal vocational training.

Box 4.8. Vocational training for child workers, Mirpur, Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Jatio Sramik League (BJSL), Metal Workers Union of Bangladesh, a national trade union centre established in 1969 with almost 100,000 members throughout the country, has worked on literacy, human rights and other social issues. The BJSL has also started to address child labour by providing non-formal education and skills training for child workers. At the start, 75 children (60 boys and 15 girls) participated. There are now four instructors who work with 300 children.

The children are involved in several programme activities: general education (for two hours each day, six days a week for six months) which addresses literacy skills; skills training (also for two hours a day) with four choices: sewing or embroidery; welding and lathe machining; production activities involving commissioned work arranged by instructors and linked to skills training which serves as on-the-job training, providing income for the children; and recreation, including board games, cricket and football. The skills chosen were based on the assessment of the programme staff of what would be marketable skills for the children's employment in the future.

Food supplements were part of the programme, but were removed in Phase 2. The programme organizers felt that providing both stipends and food supplements might discourage parents from sending their children to regular government schools which cannot provide for these additional incentives. The stipends were retained but the feeding programme was discontinued.

The programme generated tremendous interest from the parents who brought their children to participate, while the children expressed their enthusiasm for the programme and were optimistic about finding a better job. Some plan to set up their own workshops. There will be more emphasis on life skills and management skills so that the children will learn about costs and earnings, managing their income and being more realistic about their abilities and the possibilities for earning.

Box 4.9. The Sema Life Development Project -Special Project Division, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Thailand

The project was launched in August 1994 to address the needs of girls from the northern part of Thailand who were recruited by persuasion or deception into prostitution. Many of them were from the hill tribes, and some were children of illegal migrants and refugees. The main strategy was to involve children, families and communities in preventing child prostitution.

Data collection and analysis were undertaken at the home and village levels, and 5,000 child victims and potential victims of prostitution were identified. An information campaign, including education on HIV/AIDS, was organized, as many parents had encouraged their children to engage in the sex trade to maintain a relatively comfortable lifestyle for the family. Many girls were vulnerable to being recruited into prostitution because they wanted to fulfil their filial responsibility.

During the first phase, 94 primary schools in eight northern provinces were involved. In the project design, primary schools were designated as the campaign centres for the prevention of prostitution. They helped identify girls at high risk and organized prevention activities. Boarding-schools and secondary schools in target areas were expected to provide opportunities for the girls to complete their education beyond the primary level. Vocational training in marketable trades for the local communities and non-formal education services were provided to those unable to join the general education stream in secondary school. Scholarships enabled the girls to enrol in boarding-schools or vocational colleges.

Ban Vieng'pan School is the project centre for 41 schools in a locality which is home to Burmese refugees. Within four months the project managed to start enrolling many girls in schools. In this area, 40 per cent of students dropped out after primary level, and 5 per cent of the students were "southward bound", i.e. recruited for the sex trade in the south. Teachers were actively involved in the campaign against child prostitution and educated children about the laws related to prostitution and the dangers - including sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS - and about the ways that children are manipulated by agents. The teachers identified alternative occupations in the community and started to organize courses in weaving, sewing, flower-arranging and handicrafts with the participation of community resource persons and social workers. The social welfare offices also provided financial and technical support for vocational training.

A significant initiative of the teachers as advocates for the girls was to intervene when recruiters tried to establish contact with them. The teachers informed the local police and the parents and continued to monitor the girls, especially when parents were consenting to the recruitment of their children. However, they also realized that child prostitution is part of organized crime, which placed understandable limits on the degree to which teachers could take action.

The project has been successful in raising community awareness, preventing the recruitment of more children into prostitution and supporting them through education and training. But the demands on the teachers in time and energy needed were tremendous. Pressing problems related to the lack of funding support, especially for teacher training, mobilization efforts, administrative back-up, and assistance to facilitate work with other government agencies or within the Ministry of Education. However, efforts have been made to strengthen coordination within and among agencies at the local and provincial levels, which will culminate in the adoption of a coordinated Provincial Plan of Action to prevent child labour.

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