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Dec 19, 2002

Seminar looks at child labour

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Christmas was also in the air on Bishop Street as three other charitable organisations received cheques today. Tropical Gaming, the company which operates the lotto, BEL-3, and Scratch draws, gave out the donations to the Salvation Army, the Lions Club, and the Hospital Auxiliary. Manager of Tropical Gaming, Carol Young-Card, says the company chose the three institutions for the work they do.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

According to the latest statistics of the International Labour Organization, worldwide, one in every eight children work in dangerous conditions for great lengths of time…stunting their growth and killing their hopes for the future.

Michele Jankanish, I.L.O. Caribbean office

“Prostitution and pornography, the use of children in the drug trade… in dangerous and hazardous work, exposed to chemicals in agriculture, scaffoldings in construction, deep sea diving, just to give you a flavour of the very serious things that children are doing.”

Michele Jankanish from the Caribbean Office of the I.L.O. is in Belize conducting a seminar for Belizean participants on the impact of child labour on society.

Michele Jankanish

“We’re not talking about children who are doing errands now and then and helping out around the house. We’re talking about young people who are missing out on their educational opportunities. They are engaging in dangerous work. Most children who are exploited in child labour are found in agriculture, so there are about three hundred and fifty million children around the world in child labour. A hundred and eighty-seven million of them we would say are really in the hard core worst forms of child labour.”

Initial studies conducted by the Central Statistical Office in Belize have revealed that child labour does exist here…numbers that could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Leticia Vega, Central Statistical Office

“Like for every hundred children, who are aged five to seventeen for instance, six of them are engaged in child labour. Most of these children, we have seventy-five percent being boys and twenty-five percent girls. These are the reported cases, because girls may be involved in child labour, but it’s more hidden type of child labour that you do not get using these types of household surveys.”

There are plans to conduct a rapid assessment study to find out how many children are working in prostitution and other illicit practices. Additional findings have revealed that child labour is most prevalent in rural areas, in agriculture based communities.

Leticia Vega

“We did ask why, what are there plans for the future, and most of them, a large number of them say they want to complete school and then work as professionals.”

Motivated by those sentiments, the I.L.O. is attacking child labour from all sides.

Michele Jankanish

“What kind of family opportunities can be provided to help the families, the adults in the family work, so the children can go to school. And a lot of effort is placed on educational opportunities, making sure the children are in school…maybe they are old enough and can work part time, but they are in the dangerous jobs. So let’s get them out of the dangerous job, get them trained in some skills and still allow them to have a little bit of income.”

On a separate note, if no one wins this Saturday’s one hundred and five thousand dollar lotto jackpot, Tropical Gaming has decided to add twenty thousand dollars for the next draw on Christmas Eve. If no one wins that one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollar draw, then the prize pot will be reduced to a mere one hundred and twelve thousand, five hundred dollars.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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