The new school year has begun and Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged public school officials and teachers to use the Department’s checklist to determine if a student is at risk or engaged in child labor.
“Education plays a crucial role in reducing and preventing child labor which interferes with a child’s right to education, as well as risks a child’s health, safety, and development. Teachers have a vital role in bringing children back to school, keep working children in school, and help children complete school,” said Baldoz.
“This is why education is one of the major intervention in the Cabinet Cluster Convergence Program, H.E.L.P. M.E., which the DOLE leads. H.E.L.P. M.E. stands for Health, Education, Livelihood, Protection, Prevention, Prosecution and, Monitoring and Evaluation,” Baldoz explained.
The checklist, which the DOLE’s Bureau of Working Condition (BWSC) developed, will help public school officials and teachers to determine if a student is at risk or already victim of child labor, according to Baldoz.
“School officials and teachers are the ones with direct contact with children so they are the best persons to know if child labor exists in the communities where they work and live. They can positively influence the children’s education and guide them into their future,” said Baldoz.
Child labor refers to the employment of children who are below 18 years old that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful.
The DOLE checklist lists down the physical indicators that would determine if a student is a child laborer. These indicators are as follows: tired appearance; unhealthy appearance; symptoms of illness; cuts, wounds, bruises, burns, or skin diseases; malnourished or undernourished; and tidy or dirty clothes.
The behavioral indicators are absence of four days per month; habitual tardiness; tendency to sleep in the class; limited interaction with classmates, teachers, or school officials; limited participation in school activities; poor academic performance; and tendency to drop out of school.
Other indicators in determining if a student is a victim of child labor are direct admission by the child that he/she is a child laborer and information from classmates, other students, or members of the community.
Baldoz said that if the teacher has determined that a student is a victim of child labor, he or she should inform the local government unit, or the nearest DOLE Regional Office, so the necessary assistance can be given to the child.
She said teachers and other school officials should inform children about the dangers of child labor, child rights, and the means for defending them.
“Teachers play an important role in combating child labor. They can help children develop their potential skills so that they can seek appropriate work in the future. Teachers can contribute to the prevention of child labor by taking action in schools and by reaching out to the community,” said Baldoz.