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FOCUS June 1999 Volume 16

Out of School

Editorial

South Asian NGOs argue that the solution to the child labor problem is education. Children have to be put in school to break the cycle of poverty in the long term. Improving the working condition of child laborers will put food on the table but will not secure their future. They will retire young and unable to find other appropriate sources of income. The moment they have children the whole cycle begins again.

The economic crisis in Asia is pushing more children to get out of school. Unless the economic recovery quickly brings back the level of income prior to the crisis, more and more children are likely to leave the school. More and more children are facing an uncertain future.

The basic right to education is violated in both cases of children who have been working for the family and children who may have to work after leaving the school. But this is just one aspect of the problem. They also suffer from, among others, reduced food intake, unhealthy environment, bad working conditions, inaccessible social services, gender discrimination, and in many cases violence.

On the whole, Asia and the Pacific have young societies. Children constitute a great portion of today's population in the region. The urgency of getting the children of economically dislocated families fed, clothed, housed and schooled should be recognized and reflected in government priorities. The rights of the child idea has no better opportunity to be realized than now.


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