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Transform Child Laborers into school kids, says DOLE Secretary Baldoz

Bacolod City --- “If we cannot give these children a chance of a good life today, how can we do it in the next generation?” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz yesterday posed this question at the ceremony distributing school materials to 100 child laborers in Barangay Antipolo, Pontevedra, Negros Occidental.

The distribution of educational kit to child laborers is part of the campaign of the Department of Labor and Employment for child labor-free barangays dubbed Project Angel Tree.

During the ceremony, the child laborers, ages 7 to 15 years old, exchanged their farm tools with school materials to demonstrate their willingness to leave work and go to school instead.

Speaking before the children’s parents, community officials and local folks, Baldoz pointed out that the distribution of school kits is not a “one-shot deal” project but a symbolic act of a long term commitment in the fight against child labor.

Barangay Antipolo, 62 kilometers south of Bacolod City, was identified to be one of the pilot areas of the child labor-free barangay campaign due to high incidence of child labor, particularly in sugarcane plantation.

Baldoz said the campaign is one of the priority programs of DOLE to address the problems of child labor, adding that education is the only investment parents can give to their children.

The children show their educational kits which contained school materials that they can use when classes start.“We want to free all the barangays in this country from child labor, and it is a hard task for us to eradicate the 2.4 million child laborers and transform them into a potential force for nation building through education,” she added.

The DOLE chief averred that this effort needs the support of other government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the local government units, and the parents to give better future for these children.

DOLE Region 6 Director Ponciano M. Ligutom assisted the Labor Secretary in distributing the educational kits to the children as he lauded the town and barangay officials for their cooperation in this undertaking.

Baldoz was in Bacolod City to grace the inauguration of the new Sugar Workers Development Center (SWDC) building (Amalia N. Judicpa-Senior LEO/LCO).

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