KKPC Mobilizes Community Actors to Sustain Education Programs for Child Laborers and Impact Child Labor Policy
Amidst the modern city of Quezon, Philippines lies an impoverished urban pocket called Tatalon. Approximately 70% of families in Tatalon are poor, with children learning early to engage in any economic activity that would give immediate relief from hunger. Many children have become domestic laborers, construction workers, prostitutes, and drug dependents. Education has become irrelevant for many families, causing children to forego schooling or drop out as soon as they are physically able to work.
Figure 1 Councilor Lagman motivates youth to engage in healthy activities and protect themselves from child labor and drug use.
This context challenged CIRCLE partner Kapatiran Komunidad People’s Coalition (KKPC) to organize and implement projects that directly benefit these children. KKPC embarked on a program that would strengthen and institutionalize educational support to urban working and at-risk children, as well as enable them to withdraw from hazardous forms of work in the city. This story highlights one strategy employed by KKPC to assure the success and sustainability of educational assistance to these children.
Believing in the concept of community ownership and participation, KKPC sought early to engage the city legislators: the Project Director made KKPC visible to legislators by visiting them in their offices, writing to them about the project, and inviting them to community activities. KKPC emphasized that formal schooling is a means to promote the child laborers’ rights and is an effective strategy to prevent children from engaging in hazardous work.
Figure 2 KKPC Director Evelyn Galang during the graduation celebration with Councilor Lagman.
A breakthrough happened during the induction of KKPC-Winrock Parents Association. Councilor Lagman publicly pledged his support to the program, stating that he will grant ‘Winrock Scholars’ college scholarships after their high school graduation. He was convinced that KKPC has done effective monitoring of children and has instilled good values among them and their parents. He also donated a portable component to be used for community activities. In addition, Councilor Lagman said he would author a resolution encouraging NGOs, people’s organizations and the City Government to adopt this kind of program so that child laborers will have better educational options and protective services. Councilor Lagman and 3 other city councilors then sponsored a local ordinance strengthening a national law which prohibits the employment of children below 15 years old in public and private undertakings.
The city councilors’ support has continued to pay off. They helped KKPC convince the Office of the City Mayor to accept the KKPC-CIRCLE scholars as beneficiaries of the city college scholarship program for the school year 2006-2007. All of the scholars passed their grade/year level. The graduating students are now recipients of the city college scholarship at the Asian School of Arts and Sciences, receiving a monthly allowance of Php 2,000 from the city government and two are scholars under Councilor Lagman’s program.