Government looks to eradicate child labor by 2020

June 11th, 2014 (ISH) osta Rica, which has the lowest number of child workers in Central America, wants to have a workforce that doesn’t include minors by 2020.

Costa Rica’s National Household Survey reported 47,400 minors between the ages of 5 and 17 – 4.6% of all Costa Ricans – were employed when the survey was conducted in 2011.

Of the 47,400 employed in that age group, about 41,000 have jobs that are illegal for minors, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Representatives from the Labor Ministry, the ILO and the Telefónica Foundation discussed in the Costa Rican capital of San José how to eradicate child labor in the country as part of celebrating the World Day Against Child Labor on June 12.

Esmirna Sánchez, the Labor Ministry’s director of workers’ protection, said one of the problems is minors refuse to tell officials they are working illegally.

Ana Josefina Güell, the executive president of the country’s Child Welfare Office, said her office receives six complaints of child labor abuses monthly.

Regardless, Costa Rica wants to have a child-free workforce by 2020, as ILO and the Telefónica Foundation have pledged financial and logistical assistance.

“It is urgent to eradicate this scourge that keeps pushing children away from the classrooms and sends them into a reality that is not consistent with the stage of life they are supposed to be living,” Labor Minister Víctor Morales said. “These kids should be in school enjoying their childhood and forging a better future instead of risking their health, their physical and mental development.”

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  • expatin paradise

    This sounds like a good idea until one realizes that some families may depend upon teen-age members to provide for them because a parent is unemployed or unable to work. I can understand a fifteen-year-old dropping out of school if he is only in the fifth grade, which is not unusual here. The “scourge” responsible for this situation is a school system that requires students to pass exams in all their subjects or repeat a grade. A simple solution to that problem would be a summer school program that would allow students to re-take the class for the exams they failed, and allow them to advance to the next grade if they passed their re-exams.

  • toolman78

    This is a politically correct but completely unrealistic and in the end harmful policy. In a country where a large portion of jobs are manual labor that don’t require any school what so ever, forbidding teenagers to work is counterproductive. I’m not advocating any sort of jobs inappropriate for their age or with hours that hinder them from going to school. That sort of thing should be prohibited. But many 16-20 year-olds here go to school in the evenings and work in the morning.
    And a personal observation of mine is that hard manual labor is something that needs to be learned early in life. People who start working at 18 years of age, generally have a hard time getting accustomed to it. I say that as someone who started working at 15 myself and seeing the difference between those who’ve been helping their parents as soon as they were able and those who enjoyed a childhood free of such obligations. People need to get away from the idea that any sort of work on the part of a minor is tantamount to child abuse.

  • Larry Worsham

    The biggest problem I see here is for the farming communities. It’s not uncommon for many to start doing minor jobs very early in life and even quitting school after their mandatory six years to work full time in support of the family. I had a farm outside of Turrialba for a dozen years and this was a common occurrence. I also grew up in MO. and ID. on farms and work was expected there, also. As a matter of fact, in the ’50s in Idaho they closed school for two weeks each fall so we could help with the potato harvest.