Friday, June 12, 2015

No to Child Labour - Yes to Quality Education

The theme for 2015 World Day Against Child Labour is No to Child Labour - Yes to Quality Education. This year we are calling for free, compulsory and quality education for all children in Myanmar.

Many child labourers don't attend school regularly or at all. Free and compulsory education of good quality is key to ending child labour by giving children the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills. To find out more, read Wei Phyoe’s story below.

You can also download a flyer, notebook, and poster with drawings by children taking part in Non-Formal Primary Education (NFPE), supported by the Quality Basic Education Programme. The drawings were created as part of a workshop on child labour run by UNICEF, the Myanmar Literacy Resource Centre (MLRC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Wei Phyoe’s Story

©UNICEF Myanmar/2015/Khine Zar Mon
Wei Phyoe Thu at his NFPE class

Wei Phyoe Thu is 11 years old and lives in Hlaingtaryar Township, an industrial area on the outskirts of Yangon. Wei Phyoe smiles shyly, but is keen to talk about his life and his family.

“My father works at the Thai border, he has been away for three years. My older brother and sister and I live with my mum”.

“We all work hard. My elder brother is a trishaw driver at the market, he starts work at 5am every day. During the day I help my mother with chores”.

Wei Phyoe’s situation is not unusual. “Many children in this area have to do a lot of household chores because their parents are away working” says U Min Kyaw Wai from MLRC. “They also help to sell goods at the market to contribute to the family income, or they work in a tea shop.”

Wei Phyoe and his sister don’t go to school. Instead they spend their evenings attending the NFPE class run by the MLRC and supported by QBEP.

NFPE students learn about child labour
NFPE classes run for 2.5 hours in the evening, 6 days a week. Volunteers from the community receive training and materials from QBEP via MLRC and teach literacy and numeracy. When the children complete NFPE Level 2 they are qualified as having graduated from upper primary school and can join the government middle school.

MLRC also works with government township monitors to try and identify children who are out of school and enroll them in the NFPE programme, but it’s not easy to reach everyone.

“Many families migrated here from the Ayerwaddy region after cyclone Nargis, so there is much need and sometimes families cannot access services because they don’t have the correct documentation. We cannot reach all the out of school children in this area” says U Min Kyaw Wai.

He adds “Our aim for the future is simple. We want all children to have an education..The biggest challenge we face now is that children are not transitioning to secondary school, mainly because families cannot afford it. I would like to extend the non-formal education to secondary level”.

NFPE Students with their finished drawings on "No to child labour - Yes to quality education"
“I am happy I can learn the NFPE course” says Wei Phyoe. “Otherwise I may be like the child who fetches and sells the garbage, and I would have to do things I don’t want to do. In the future I want to complete NFPE Level 2 and go to secondary school”.

NFPE is supported by the Quality Basic Education Programme. QBEP aims to support the Government of Myanmar to improve access to quality school readiness and primary level education for all children in Myanmar.

QBEP is supported by the Multi Donor Education Fund (MDEF), comprising Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, and by UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Myanmar.

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