Helping children access education is a key focus in tackling child labor. There are many barriers to be overcome, and our CLMRS has a range of remediation activities to address them. Here are the stories of two children we identified doing hazardous work.
“School means success,” says Paul, a 54-year-old cocoa farmer from a village in Côte d’Ivoire. “I want my children to be successful so I send them to school.”
But that hasn’t always been easy for Paul. He has eleven children and bringing up such a large family would put a strain on any family’s resources. Yet putting his children through school remains a priority for him. Perhaps this is because he is literate himself, and he values the opportunities that education can offer his children in the long term.
But life is hard here. There is a lot of work to do in the fields and having children help out is deeply ingrained in the local culture. When the local Community Liaison Person visited Paul’s household, three of his children had been carrying heavy loads in the last six months.
Since the CLMRS was implemented in 2012, 62% of children that we identified doing hazardous work were carrying heavy loads.
Of all the dangerous tasks that children are found doing, carrying heavy loads is the most common.
It can cause real problems for spinal development. We usually ask for details and have found that less than a third of loads lifted are actually cocoa. Instead, most were wood, water or food.
One of the children identified as carrying heavy loads was Paul’s son Ezechiel – a happy little eight-year-old, who loves reading books on his mother’s knee. Unsurprisingly, children in school are less at risk of being involved in child labor. Like many children, Ezechiel didn’t have a birth certificate. Without one, taking the final primary school exam and enrolling in secondary school is not possible.
The United Nations estimated in 2013 that 2.8 million children in Côte d’Ivoire do not have birth certificates. We certainly see this problem a lot on the ground, where a lack of paperwork prevents children from going to school, leaving them at risk of child labor. In this case, we helped provide Ezechiel with his birth certificate.
To date, Nestlé has provided 5,756 children in Côte d'Ivoire with birth certificates.
Nestlé has also taken action in the village at a community level, building a new school in the town. This has massively relieved the pressure on the town’s four older schools, which were badly overcrowded.
“The construction of the school by Nestlé has been very beneficial to our village,” agreed Denis, the headteacher of one of the older schools. Some of our students have been moved to the new school. Because there are fewer students, the teachers have a more global view of the children and they can go into more detail with them – it makes it much easier to get the message across.”
“Ezechiel came to our school last year,” he continued. “He’s a good boy and pays attention in class. Like every child from a low income background, the support he gets at home is limited because his parents don’t have a lot of money. But you can see that he really wants to study. He’s a nice kid – he’s sociable and plays with his friends. In terms of grades he’s average, so overall, he’s doing fine. With some support, I think he could go quite far in his studies.”
Ezechiel’s older brother Ghislain, 16, had also been identified doing hazardous work carrying heavy loads at the same time as attending school. A brilliant student, Ghislain received the second-highest grades in his class over the last academic year. “I like Spanish,” he explained, “and I want to become a Spanish teacher.” To assist Paul in meeting the costs of keeping Ghislain in school and out of the fields, we provided a school kit.
To date, Nestlé has provided school kits to 19,152 children in Côte d'Ivoire.
What goes into a school kit?
There are six types of school kit that are issued according to a child's age and school level. Typically, they contain a schoolbag, along with the stationery and textbooks that are needed on a daily basis for lessons. If children don't have these materials, they may not be allowed into class, or may be sent home.
“The school kit helped me because it helped my dad too,” Ghislain explained. “To help children you have to help their parents cover expenses."
Looking to the future, Paul has high hopes for his son. “My dream for Ghislain is that he becomes a teacher or something like that. My hope is that he will be someone important in the village.”
Ezechiel meanwhile says he likes school and he has big plans of his own for the future. “When I am big, I want to work in an office so I can buy a car and come and visit my parents,” he says. His dad smiles. He doesn’t have any specific hopes for Ezechiel yet. “He’s still little,” he explains “but I hope that he is successful.”
One year on and neither Ezechiel nor Ghislain have undertaken any dangerous tasks again. This seems to have been, at least for now, a relatively straightforward and successful way to prevent child labor. But the case of their other brother Raoul has not been as easy to resolve, highlighting the complexity of remediation. You can read Raoul's story here: https://www.nestlecocoaplan.com/article-child-labor-report-0