About 20,221 children from 250 barangays in eleven provinces in the Philippines, including Negros Occidental and Oriental, are working in sugarcane fields, Daphne Culanag, ABK3 LEAP (Livelihood, Education, Advocacy and Protection) project director, said yesterday.
However, she also said, these figures only represent 15 percent of the total population of the barangays in Negros Occidental and Oriental, Iloilo, Cebu, Leyte, Capiz, Bukidnon, Davao Del Sur and North Cotabato.
Culanag also said that LEAP, a non-government organization, is now assisting 11, 813 children who are working in sugarcane fields from Negros Occidental and 3, 300 in Negros Oriental by giving them school supplies and uniforms while their parents are being given livelihood.
A survey conducted by the National Statistics Office in 2011 showed that of the 5.49 million child laborers, 2.99 million are into hazardous jobs which includes agriculture and sugarcane field work, Jason Befus, ABK3 LEAP operayions manger, said.
LEAP is now partnering with the agencies to combat hazardous child labor especially in the sugarcane areas and hopes to help a total of 52,000 children across 11 provinces in the country by the end of the year, Culanag said.
Michael Ayong, Assistant School Division Superintendent in Northern Negros, said the risk that children who are working will drop out from school is high.
Ayong also said not all working students are qualified because there are criteria that need to be met before they can qualify for this module.
Edith Villauneva, president of the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc,. said the sugar planters are doing everything they can to ensure that child workers in the sugarcane fields are safe.*APN
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