Combatting Child labour in Thailand

Combatting Child labour in Thailand


The Child labour situation in Thailand is
very complex. Many are working in hazardous and under-regulated conditions. Others are
employed illegally in hidden places. While almost all Thai children are enrolled in full
time education, pockets of them are still combining schooling with work, work that sometimes
falls under the definition of the worst forms. At the same time, there is a growing number
of migrant children who have very little access to education and other social services. These
children are extremely vulnerable to work-related abuses. The International Labour Office in collaboration
with its partners are working to improve the situation. Together, we have taken steps to
implement a course of action. This video will highlight a few models that have proved to
be very successful in combating the worst forms of child labour in Thailand over the
past four years in 6 pilot provinces of Chiangrai, Tak, Udonthani, Samutsakhon, Songkhla, and
Pattani. We hope these good practices will
continue and spread throughout the country. Education provision is a key strategy. Many children
involved in child labour do not have access to an education. If provided an education, they are given the skills
and knowledge to keep them out of this situation. Thailand’s free Education-For-All policy is commendable,
and it provides a strong foundation on which the project can build. With efforts from all, more children are gaining
access to formal or in some cases non-formal education.
In some areas, mobile education is provided to reach out to vulnerable children. Language barriers exist. Many migrant children
cannot speak Thai. So they are sent to a preparatory school first
and later can enroll in a formal school. Life skills trainings are provided
too. Ban Sang Paen Community School initiated a mushroom rearing project for the students
to operate to demonstrate a safe work that can generate income. In Tak Province, some schools are even teaching
Burmese, Thai and English to their students. The tri-lingual courses respond to the local
context very well. Children are motivated to stop working to go to school.
It’s just not children receiving an education. Teachers benefit too. Thai teachers are learning
Burmese and Burmese teachers are learning Thai. The capacity for educators is improved
through a series of capacity building courses, and post training follow-ups. Academic institutions have demonstrated
their enthusiasm, initiatives, and actions to join
the fight against child labour. In the coastal area of Songkhla, Pattani,
and Samutsakhon provinces, children are often found working
in the fishing and fish processing industry. In collaboration with key partners,
the underage children are identified, withdrawn from work and sent to school. Both the employers
and the children above the legal minimum working age are given training to improve their overall
working conditions. Therefore creating a safer work environment. In Tak Province, migrant workers and their families including children work and live
on plantations. Their living quarters and sanitation systems are poor. Heavy usage of
pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemical substances is a constant health risk for them.
The farm owners, migrant workers, Tambon Administration Office (TAO), and community members join hand
to improve their working conditions. Ye Min Ong, a Burmese migrant worker, has
become a health volunteer leader. He takes care of health and hygiene in his community.
He also spends his free time to provide tutoring to the children there. By combining the efforts of various government
and non-government agencies allows a province to respond to the problem of child labour
in a more comprehensive manner. The law enforcement agencies and their multi-disciplinary
team networks combine efforts regularly to locate children being exploited by employers. Once the children are rescued, they are also provided
with legal aid, healthcare, counselling and temporary shelters. In the selected pilot provinces, the Provincial
Committee to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour has been established and began
to utilize a multi-disciplinary team approach to tackle the child labour problem. Wisit
Sithisombat, Mae Sai District Chief, has embraced the multidisciplinary team method. Wisit regularly meets with the Tambon Administration
Officers as well as the community leaders to mobilize these local networks to take immediate
actions against child labour. Child labour monitoring is another example that a multi-disciplinary team approach yields
a very good result. The authorities, schools, and volunteers from several disciplines join
hands to monitor the child labour situation in their communities. If working children
are found, they are withdrawn and referred to appropriate services Often people have differing views on what defines
child labour. A number of awareness raising
activities are carried out to build correct understanding and mobilize society to take
action against child labour. World Day Against Child Labour Event is organized
on the 12th of June every year to alert the public of this issue. In Chiangrai, Ban Huay Krai School has developed
Tawan Song Sang curriculum of which any teachers can use right away in schools to raise awareness
among the students for the prevention of child labour. With the business sector, awareness raising approach is adopted as a means to gain cooperation
and commitment In the border area, migrant workers cross
the border to Thailand and look for a job with a hope for better lives. They usually come together with their families
in a big group without any legal documents. They live together and their community expands
rapidly. Under this complex situation, major progress
in elimination of child labour can be achieved when the local key actors are empowered and
the decision to tackle child labour is made through community consultation.
In a pilot province, the ILO works with an agricultural community through their civil
organization and empowers them to bring an end to child labour. The farm owners, migrant workers, Tambon Administration
Office (TAO), and community members join hands to improve their quality of life. The community has worked together to improve
access to education too. Several partners work together to run Prahita – the only
school for migrant children in this isolated area. With the ILO technical support, the community
members now are better aware of the child labour issue and know how to tackle this problem. They are in a better position to safeguard
their children. The afore-mentioned good practices to combat
child labour are just the beginning of a new era of a child labour free society for Thailand.
But there clearly challenges ahead. (Bill Salter)
In Thailand, nobody can say that this will be easy but we can see the tremendous steps
forward that all have been made. And I think, with the adoption of the National Policy and
Plan of Action, assuming that the government follows through with resources for that and
support for integrative implementation, I think Thailand can certainly achieve that
goal. The ILO is committed to support our partners
in Thailand and hope that these good practices of 6 pilot provinces will be replicated throughout
the country. Together, the end of child labour is within
our reach.

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