Children Lead the Way

Today there are an estimated 265 million children who work, including 168 million who are engaged in harmful work – work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and interferes with their education. Economic exploitation and hazardous work are key violations of children’s rights and Save the Children has worked for decades to protect children from these situations. To address the issue of children and work we use a holistic, child-centred approach that focuses on child protection, economic strengthening, health and education and to create opportunities for girls and boys to become healthy, educated, and empowered citizens.

Our Children Lead the Way (CLW) program was developed in 2009 when children asked us for a program that both fulfilled their rights as working children and empowered them towards a vision of dignified work. To address the issue of children and work we use a holistic, child-centred approach that focuses on child protection, economic strengthening, and health and education to create opportunities for girls and boys to become healthy, educated, and empowered citizens.

VIDEO: Children Lead the Way

Together with over thirty grassroots organizations across the five participating countries, we have worked towards the goal of empowering working children to become engaged citizens and to access decent work. The program has directly impacted the lives of over 15,000 boys and girls across five countries.

Bolivia

Because of the high levels of poverty and inequality in Bolivia, Over 800,000 children (approximately 10% of Bolivia’s total population) are working in Bolivia. Children and youth most frequently work in informal sectors, usually alongside their families as extra-sources of cheap manual labour. The poverty they face and the lack of resources often force them to quit school. A significant number of children work in sectors considered to be high risk and consequently the work is hazardous to their health and development, such as commercial agriculture (sugarcane and cotton harvesting and Brazil nut collection), as well as mining.

Program objectives

Creating a positive and relevant learning environment that includes teaching in native languages, introducing student governments, and applying productive education training, eight program partners across Bolivia (Qhara Qhata Suyu, JAKISA, TEKO, CCCh, K’anchay, Chasqui, TIM & TIMI) have encouraged the retention of children in school, leading to an increase in school completion rates for both primary and secondary school children.

Program impact

  • 76% of primary school-aged boys and girls are in enrolled
  • 75% of secondary school-aged children receiving an education
  • 57% of secondary school attendees are applying productive education at home
  • 4,084 children are currently in primary school
  • 45% of primary school children are applying productive education skills at home
  • 3,274 adolescents are currently in secondary school

Video: Meet Mary

Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso children work doing a variety of jobs although the greatest percentage (70%) of children do some form of agricultural work either for pay or to help their families. Twenty-five percent of children work in the service sector, including working as domestic help. Artisanal activities such as welding, metal fitting, and construction make up the work experience of only 5 percent of children. Work is still very much defined by gender for children and most artisanal or skilled work remains the prerogative of boys while girls generally find themselves in domestic services, retail vendors or mobile fruit and vegetable sellers.

Program objectives

Giving children and adolescents access to educational opportunities, including primary and secondary school, vocational training and apprenticeships; and creating positive learning environments were designed by the six partners – AEJTB, ABAMAQEBA, COBUFADE, MUNYI, TIE and SALAKI – to get children into learning environments and ensure that they successfully completed their education or training. Save the Children also partners with the Ministry of Labour to build their capacity to protect the rights of children involved in harmful forms of work.

Program impact

  • 478 children are enrolled in primary school. 271 adolescents are currently in secondary school, technical/vocational training or university
  • 96 adolescents are currently in apprenticeship placements
  • 142 children/adolescents are engaged in dignified work

Kenya

In Kenya, children as young as five years old can be found working in agriculture, on cash crops such as coffee, tea, khat, and produce farms. They can also be found working in quarries, crushing rock. The commercial, subsistence agriculture and fishing sectors employ the largest number of working children (57.6%). Children also work in construction, retail and trading as well as the manufacturing and mining sectors.

Program objectives

Working in Kenya by Save the Children and its five partners – AfCiC, K-NOTE, Laare Catholic Waumini SACCO, KAACR and Kangaroo Actors 2000 – has focused on increasing access to educational opportunities for working children that has included access to primary and secondary school and vocational apprenticeship placements; with the objective of nurturing productive adults who can fulfill their dreams and aspirations.

Program impact

  • At the start of the program 41.6% of the boys and girls were not in school; by the end of the program 38.9% were either in school or working in non-harmful environments with only 1.4% not in school or working
  • 380 children are currently in primary school
  • 662 adolescents are currently in secondary school, technical/vocational training or university
  • 65 adolescents are currently in apprenticeship placements

Video: Meet Karen

Nicaragua

In the regions where this project is being implemented the majority of children have paid or unpaid work, primarily in the coffee plantation industry. Boys are more likely to work outside the home since the domestic work, like caring for their brothers and sisters, is almost exclusively assigned to girls. Strong gender stereotyping particularly limits a girl’s opportunities, especially in education. Working in the home with no potential career back up means girls are more vulnerable to extreme poverty, early marriage and pregnancy. Agricultural work, including working in coffee plantations, exposes children of both genders to work related dangers like pesticides, snakebites, accidents and excessive workloads.

Program objectives

Working with CESESMA and La Cuculmeca, two community-based partners, Save the Children has broadened the scope of educational opportunities available to rural children, encouraging them to remain in school, and complementing the formal educational curriculum with on-formal learning, vocational and technical training, and life skills and gender training. Partnering with the Ministry of Labour (MITRAB) and the Ministry of Health (SILAIS), the program also ensures protection, health and safety to rural children in this coffee-growing region.

Program impact

  • 2,193 children are currently in school; 957 of those are also participating in vocational or technical training opportunities
  • The primary school completion rate increased from 40% at the start of the program to 73% in 2015
  • Successful completion of vocational and/or technical training increased form 4% at the start of the program to 40% by 2015
  • At the start of the program 183 boys and girls were not in school; by the end 96.7% of them were in school

Peru

In Peru, children start farming and caring for smaller animals at a young age. Girls are also responsible for domestic tasks and taking care of their younger siblings.

In the areas where the program is being implemented the families often have up to 5 children in the household, and access to education for all is a challenge. In the communities where we are working there are elementary schools, but children must travel to larger cities to go to high school or vocational training. Our program addresses the needs of all children in the area including those who are not in school.

Video: Save the Children in Peru

Program objectives

Working with partners IRW, MANTHOC and CODEHICA – one of the program objectives in Peru is to create enabling environments where working children’s voices can be heard, so that they have greater influence in programs and policies that affect them. This is done by building their self-esteem, leadership, organization and communication skills. We also advocate with local government and community leaders to listen to the opinions of working children and include them in decision making processes, such as setting the municipal budget.

Program impact

  • 95% of boys and girls have successfully completed primary school
  • 86% of children have successfully completed secondary school
  • 90% understand their rights to education, protection, participation, and play
  • 1,600 children are currently in primary school. 1,273 adolescents are currently in secondary school, technical/vocational training or university

Click here to visit our Children Lead the Way Website.

Click here to visit our Children Lead the Way Photovoice project titled Gender in Focus.