More than 1.75 million child laborers in Vietnam: ministry

Viet Nam News/ANN

HANOI — The National Programme on Preventing and Reducing Child Labour for the years 2016-2020 aims to end child labor exploitation. All 100 percent of the child laborers will be assisted to integrate into the community and get the chance to grow, Dao Hong Lan, deputy minister of labour, invalids and social affairs said. “The program has concrete measures by the Vietnamese government, which has committed to international pledges to reach Sustainable Development Goals on child labor,” she said.

The information was released at a workshop on development of the guidelines for the program’s implementation hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) on Thursday. Lan said the program would offer training to children on survival and self-protection skills, help families that have children working illegally and support employers in improving working conditions and creating jobs in line with children’s ages. The latest statistics from MOLISA showed that nationwide there are more than 1.75 million children doing hard labor or working in an unhealthy environment. Child laborers were also present in the large cities, including Ha Noi and HCM City.

Some 67 percent of the children work in the agriculture sector, 16.6 percent work for services and 15.8 percent work in the industry-construction sector. Dang Hoa Nam, director of the ministry’s Child Care and Protection Department, said majority of the child laborers below 15 years old work in the agriculture sector. From 15 to 17 years old, they move to work at industrial parks and construction sites. “What remains sad is the number of children out of school is still very high. Among child workers surveyed, up to 52 percent used to go to school; 45.2 percent are going to school and 2.8 percent do not know what school is,” he said. He said the main difficulty is limited family awareness. Many parents think child labor is not banned but is just a way to share housework within families According to participants, wages for child laborers remain very low, even though the children have to work in unfavorable conditions and suffer from serious labor exploitation. Children are forced to work 11-12 hours a day, going up to even 16 hours. Many are not paid wages. Participants agree that Vietnam faces challenges, for example, families of child laborers, children and employers lack knowledge about child labor policies. Limited access to skill and occupation developing activities is also a hindrance to child labor elimination efforts. The National Programme on Preventing and Reducing Child Labour during 2016-2020 period was adopted by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in June this year. Over the past years, the government has made efforts in reducing child labor. Its most remarkable achievement is to be the first Asian country and the second country in the world to justify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Vietnam also approved International Labour Organization’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.