MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, June 15 (PIA) -- Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro led the turnover of the symbolic key and the unveiling of the Little Red Schoolhouse, last Monday, in Barangay Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon, which is geared towards eliminating child-labor in the area.
The newly built schoolhouse is a P4-million-worth, four-classroom building donated by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. (CCFPI), which Secretary Luistro said will house 400 enrollees of first- and second-year students of Quezon National High School-Apyao Annex.
Apyao is a sub-village of Barangay Butong, where the Bukidnon Sugar Milling Company (BUSCO) is based.
Secretary Luistro, in his message, said the Little Red Schoolhouse will help address problems on child labor, because this will draw young people away from working in the sugar fields due to the schoolhouse’s proximity to their homes.
Stating that “sugar is sweet, but it is sweeter without child labor,” the education secretary said “this is another milestone of the government’s public-private partnership where more and more private entities are getting involved in giving children equal access to education.”
Mayor Gregorio Gue likewise said that the project that bears the theme “Let’s Keep Them in School” intends to cater child laborers in Barangay Butong who dropped out of school due to the distance and other problems of transportation in going to school.
Recent International Labor Organization (ILO) statistics showed that Bukidnon is among four provinces in the country that employ children as laborers, having about 2,500 children and youth between 9 and 17 years old engaged in laborious works within sugarcane plantations, corn and rice fields, particularly in Malaybalay City, Valencia City, Maramag and Quezon.
Results of the latest baseline survey commissioned for the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), likewise showed that 45 percent or 1,125 of 2,500 child laborers are out-of-school citing “can’t afford to go to school” as reason. For those in school, the average absence in class was recorded at four times a month.
Apprehensive of the situation, the ILO and the provincial government, in partnership with Coca-Cola Foundation, DepEd, Central Mindanao University, Quezon Manobo Tribal Association, SIFI, Department of Labor and Employment, private sectors and civil society groups pooled resources and expertise to implement this project, which benefits Barangay Butong’s identified child laborers.
Coca-Cola Foundation chairman Guillermo Aponte, in his donor’s message, thanked the DepEd, ILO, SIFI, BUSCO, provincial government of Bukidnon, Quezon local government unit, and the Quezon Manobo Tribal Association for allowing Coca-Cola to participate in the program.
Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Country Director, ILO, on the other hand, disclosed that the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc. and BUSCO also committed to construct another four-classroom building for the annex school, which opened this June 2012.
He said that the Central Mindanao University will also do its share by launching the Associate of Sugarcane Production and Management Course to enhance the college education of said children and youth. (RLRB/PIA 10, Bukidnon)
Source: Philippine Information Agency