The University Del Rosario in Colombia reported today a decrease of 1.3% of the incidence of child labor from its prior report, lowering the rate from a 9.1% in 2015 to a 7.8% in 2016. Though this is a positive step forward, more than 869,000 minors continue to work instead of attending a school and living a normal childhood.
The results, however, meet a goal of achieving a rate of child labor below 7.9% by 2018, more than one full year early. The Minister of Labor, Griselda Restrepo said that although there is room for more improvement, she is satisfied with this achievement. She also highlighted that the efforts will not cease, and extended an invitation the mayors and governors of the country to back her efforts.
It is estimated that between 14,000 and 17,000 minors are part of illegal armed groups in Colombia. The Minister of Labor, however, has been active in working to reach these minors following the country’s historic agreement with the FARC terrorist group, principally through state organizations such as the Colombian Institute of Familiar Wellbeing (ICBF) and SENA. Child soldiers often live in marginalized, rural areas of Colombia, where rates of child labor are twice as large as Colombia’s cities of Bogota and Medellin.
Iván Daniel Jaramillo, a researcher from Del Rosario University explained that a cultural change is needed, as many families do not consider child labor to be a problem. On the other hand, there are minors who are attracted by the income they receive and therefore neglect their studies. That is why, according to Jaramillo, there is a need to understand the underlying causes of child labor. Only with that understanding will the government be able to implement policies to eradicate it.
According to the report, the principal identified reason that child labor occurs in Colombia is family poverty, and the need to help provide family income.
This investigation also recommends that, in order to reduce the current rate even more, a quality education and a guaranteed access to basic levels of education must be provided. Additionally, the state must create educational environments that promote the emotional development of the children and teenagers, particularly those affected by the recent civil war.
The director of the ICBF, Cristina Plazas, also made a call to the general public to report any case of child labor that they discover, as child care is of upmost importance to the organization.