Child labourers get scholarships

11th December 1998 at 00:00
BRAZIL. Verlucio Leao, 13, began helping his father at work in Brazil's poor north-eastern state of Bahia when he was four. Because his father's wages were not enough to support his family, Verlucio and his siblings worked long hours cutting sisal to make hemp.

Verlucio's working day was often l3 hours. "I was always tired," he says. His story is similar to many of Brazil's four million child labourers. His father felt that if his children didn't help him, he would not be able to feed or clothe them. Parents have no idea how much their children hate the work, nor that they are perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

In an enterprising Education for All campaign, Brazil is now committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says all children have a right to a form of education in which they learn thinking and problem-solving skills, and develop their self-esteem. This issue is inextricably linked with globalisation. To capitalise on globalisation, Brazil's children must be educated.

The country's campaign seeks to create educational opportunities for children like Verlucio, who is on a pilot scholarship programme. The government pays his family about Pounds 60 a month to compensate for his labour.

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