A total of 96 child laborers reintegrated to formal schools this school year after attending the "Bata BalikEskwela" program by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (Eiler) and Nonoy Librado Development Foundation (NLDF).

Child laborers from plantations and mining areas in four different communities in Mindanao and two in other places were able to avail of the program that aims to aid child laborers before they go back to school.

According to Anna Leah Ecresa-Colina, executive director of Eiler, they built the BalikEskwela learning center mainly for child laborers in hazardous communities, such as plantations and mining areas, who missed school.

"So ang ginawa po nung learning centers natin magprovide pong review lessons sa mga bata, basic literacy para mag-catch up sila para i-integrate natin sila sa formal school they would have the confidence, given the enough transition from work and going up to school," said Colina.

She said they finished their batch 1 and 2 of the BalikSkwela Program and helped a total of 196 child laborers, 96 were reintegrated for this school year.

"Aside from providing educational support lahat ng pangangailangan sa review, materials, at pagkain ay bahaging ng serbisyong ibinigay. Bahagi po doon ay ang livelihood support na ibinigay sa mga magulang," she added.

According to her, to help the parents of child laborers, every community was given a budget to build a collective livelihood project with a seed capital fund of 5,000 Euros equivalent to P253,940.96 sponsored by the European Union.

In a study last year, on the incidence of child labor in plantations and mining in six areas in the country, Eiler found that incidence of child labor is one out of every five households. The study also indicates that child labor in the country worsened with longer working hours for children or multiple jobs juggled by child laborers to social hazard and occupational health and safety hazards.

Colina said that challenges of their program against child labor include lack of awareness of the abuse experienced by children and the generation al issue for child labor as parents thought that it is okay for them to bring children to work because it is what they also experienced with their own parents.

Colina also raised that they are advocating amendments to the current laws that concern child labor in congress.

Eiler will conduct a youth camp for child laborers at the Redemptorist Gymnasium, Bajada, Davao City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in commemoration of the 13th year of World Day Against Child Labor.

It would be attended by 60 child laborers who were reintegrated into formal classes this school year.(KCV)