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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
Open this folder and view contents4.1 STRATEGIES IN EDUCATION
View the documentChild victims of bondage, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking
View the documentGirls
View the documentChildren living and working on the streets
View the documentChildren of indigenous groups and other minorities
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

Children living and working on the streets

The lifestyle of street children has to be taken into account when designing education and rehabilitation programmes. Most successful programmes have a phased and integrated approach. In the first instance, peer or adult street workers reach out to street children to establish contact and gain their trust by involving them in street education activities, motivating them to participate in educational programmes and helping them acquire the basic skills that will enable them to learn in a structured environment. They need help to adjust to adult authority after being used to surviving on their own and developing a variety of defence mechanisms against adults who may have exploited them or who may have violated their rights. They are often hostile or intimidated by adult authority figures in schools, even in child-focused programmes. Street education programmes, which provide an atmosphere of freedom and democratic consultation, and which build up rapport gradually and develop trust, have been more effective than enrolment in formal schools, especially at the initial re-entry stages.

Non-formal education programmes are usually needed for a smoother transition between life and work on the streets and formal schooling. Special attention has to be paid to matching the learning methodology and process to the learning styles of street children. Hands-on-learning, experimentation and observation, and learning-by-doing are what they have been doing to survive. Many street children may not be "school smart" but they are certainly "street smart". They are adept at problem-solving and assessing situations from the perspective of survival. They have worked, and will assess the relevance of schooling to their immediate future in the world of work. It must be worthwhile for them to decrease their time on the streets and spend it in the classroom learning skills that help them improve their life.

Many street children also need counselling services to cope with traumatic experiences of violence, sexual exploitation or other harassment at home or on the street. Rehabilitation for substance abuse may also be necessary. Such support services should be a priority before the children can be expected to attend school and stay there.

Box 4.12. Rehabilitation and prevention programme for child beggars and street children - De Laas Gul Welfare Programme (DLG), Lahore, Pakistan

DLG is a local NGO working with women through provision of vocational training, literacy and promotion of education. One of its objectives is the mainstreaming of disadvantaged children into regular schools. The organization has established about 30 schools in local communities, providing primary education and non-formal education. The ILO-IPEC programme focuses on beggar families and communities, and on street children. The project provides non-formal education programmes in its centres. It also aims to work with parents and the mullahs or community religious leaders to raise awareness about the hazards facing children who work on the street and about the value of education.

The project works with 45 child beggars and 40 scavengers, through rehabilitation activities, non-formal education, vocational skills training and the provision of health care. Emotional rehabilitation is considered the first step when the children are newly recruited to join the programme. Counsellors work with the children at all times to orient them to the centre, and to encourage their self-expression. Older children who have been programme participants, and who have been trained as peer counsellors, also help the newly recruited children to adjust. The initial activities are designed to motivate children to engage in enjoyable learning actvities such as drawing, listening to stories, and 'watching videotapes.

The children are categorized into three groups. The first consists of small children. The objective is their complete withdrawal from begging or other street-based work, getting them to study at the centre and ultimately enter formal schools. These children are taught reading, writing and arithmetic and are prepared for the entrance examinations to enter formal school. The project provides books and supplies for those children who go on to formal school.

The parents pay for school fees (about 45-50 rupees per year for primary education) and buy the children's uniforms and school bags. The project staff believe that parents are happy and willing to send boys to school, but not girls.

The second group of children consists of those who are older, and who have to continue working for one reason or another. Alternative vocational skills training is provided to prepare them to shift to safer occupations. The children continue to work on the streets but the project staff try to convince them to sell in the market or at street corners, which are relatively safer. They sell hair ribbons, hats, juices or candies. This is seen as an initial transition measure. There are efforts to convince local ice-cream vendors or restaurants and shop owners to work with the children, but so far the project has not been successful because of the intense prejudice against them. The skills taught at the centre include food preparation (e.g. juice and jelly-making), candle and soap-making, making hats and hair ribbons, sewing, knitting, embroidery and patchwork.

Children in the third group are young children who work on the street but cannot yet be withdrawn because of the parents' objections. So far project staff have been able to encourage the children to visit the centre and play with the other children whenever they can. The centres are open twice a day, from 9-11 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m. The children beg or do other work at other times of the day. This is seen as a transition device so that at least for two hours a day the children can be out of the workplace and be engaged in normal childhood activities.

Project activities also include field visits to work sites, and certain days at the centre called "work-that-people-do days". These are designed to promote positive attitudes towards work, to teach children about other forms of work that are not dangerous and to encourage them to compare these with their current jobs. There are plans to organize part-time and short-term supervised work arrangements for older children to help them acquire positive attitudes towards work and explore future possibilities for themselves.

Box 4.13. Integral programme for children and teenagers at social risk - National Children's Patronage (PANI) and the Ministry of Public Education, Costa Rica

The programme focuses on street children who work in the informal sector in five cities in Costa Rica. They have no stable income and no fixed schedules. For example, in downtown Puntarenas, located on the Pacific coast, children working as vendors, shoe shiners, porters, garage helpers, market and factory helpers, and beggars are involved in the programme. Some belong to gangs organized according to their place of origin and are often involved in violent conflicts. Most of them are aggressive, some have substance abuse problems and some have been recruited into prostitution.

The programme aims to: (i) promote the active participation of children and their families in productive activities in the community; (ii) facilitate the integration of children, teenagers and their families in educational programmes; and (iii) increase their access to nutrition and health services, psychological interventions and other social services as needed. Recreation, sports, culture and arts, vocational training for work, assistance with establishing micro-enterprises and seeking jobs are among the activities. The programme is structured into five stages: approach, adjustment, re-education, follow-up and departure.

Street educators are the frontline workers who reach out to the children and their families. To establish the initial contact with the children, aged 11 to 16 years old, the street educators set up football teams, which are an essential motivating element in organizing the children. Then other activities are organized such as nutrition (a daily lunch), health (in coordination with the Ministry of Health), and education (with the Ministry of Public Education and PANI, which provides logistical support).

The educational activities are carried out within the facilities of formal schools with teachers of the formal education system, who receive a 30 per cent salary bonus. PANI is adapting the curriculum of the formal education system. Innovative, dynamic teaching techniques are used which do not rely on instruction only but emphasize participatory methods adjusted to the realities in which the children live.

Other activities in the project are making and repairing fishing nets, organization of a council for the protection of children, recreation and sports, and an "adapted school" which offers two-hour evening classes covering basic subjects and computer classes. Through these adapted classes children can take a test and qualify for progression to another grade level or cycle in the formal school system. In this way a child can finish sixth grade in three years. About 85 per cent of the children have been able to complete sixth grade.

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