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.”