July 2022 – With the theme focused on “Child labor: care, welcome and protection”, the Growing Up Right Institute, on Thursday July 7, promoted the fifth edition of the comprehensive integration and reflection seminar for partners of the Rural Professional Learning Program. The venue of the event was the Santa Cruz Country Club, in Santa Cruz do Sul (RS), with activities conducted by the Diatopic Consulting firm. The program started with a warm reception, conducted by facilitator Cristiane dos Santos Schleiniger, followed by the welcome speech given by Iro Schünke, president of the Growing Up Right Institute.
“The Institute was founded with the mission to fight child labor and generate opportunities for adolescents from the rural setting, especially in tobacco growing regions. It is a complex task, but with good partnerships we have achieved great results. We have already become known nationally and internationally for the innovative method of offering opportunities to adolescents from the countryside through the Learning Law. This acknowledgement includes all of you, as you take part in this important transformation-oriented work”, Schünke said to the participants.
In the sequence, Institute consultant Ana Paula Motta Costa gave a lecture on “Child labor: care, welcome and protection”. Lawyer, sociologist, with a Doctor of Laws degree, Ana Paula is a professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and researcher in the area of the rights of children and adolescents, child labor and young people involved with violent situations.
According to her, up to some time ago, children were not treated as children and, since an early age, they already performed activities only appropriate for adults. As time went by, it generated such problems as low levels of education, negative impacts on physical and psychological development, as well as increased social inequality.
According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 160 million children and adolescents, aged 5 to 17, were subjected to child labor in early 2020. The pandemic exacerbated the problem of child labor around the world, with a sharp increase in poverty, closure of schools and consequent school evasion. There is every indication that there will be an increase to the above numbers”, the report suggests. In Brazil, the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD 2019), demonstrated that 1.768 million children and adolescents worked, and 53.7% belong to the 16 and 17 year age group.
According to Ana Paula, there are several reasons that lead to child labor, especially as far as adolescents are concerned. “In many cases, the adolescents want to have their autonomy and wish to be financially independent, a situation in which they are eager to earn their own money. Furthermore, the sense of belonging for the adolescents frequently goes through the social appeal for consumption, which generates demands that the families are sometimes unable to meet”, she comments. Still according to her, viewing work as something natural, with such sayings as “it has always been like this” and the feeling that work is valuable, in line with the financial standing of the family or even family problems like drug or alcohol addiction, are equally factors that can give rise to child labor.
“During the events promoted by the tobacco sector on the theme, we saw farmers questioning what to do with the children. As a matter of fact, frequently there are no alternatives for the adolescents in the rural setting and, within this context, the Growing Up Right Institute was founded. Going in Search of better solutions than work is the route we should follow and it goes, without any doubt, through the creation of opportunities. And, more than that, there is need for us to look at children as children, adolescents as adolescents. For children and adolescents to grow up in a healthy manner there is need for the adults, that is to say “for us”, to care, welcome and protect them. This is the job of the entire network”, she concludes.
The morning program continued with the presentation “Rural Professional Learning: a route to follow in the fight against child labor”, with the participation of the pedagogical consultant of the Institute, Taciane Velazquez, the social educator, André Skolaude, and the former student of the Rural Professional Learning Program, Denise Faust, who kept the participants informed about the innovative manner to enforce the Learning Law on behalf of the young people from the rural setting.
With the validation by the Ministry of Labor, the Rural Professional Learning Program has already benefited 596 young people from the rural setting in Rio Grande do Sul, since 2016. The participants are hired as young apprentices by the tobacco companies associated with the Growing Up Right Institute, and they receive a salary proportional to 20 hours a week, but instead of working for the companies, they attend a rural management and entrepreneurship course in the shift opposite to their regular school hours, consisting in theoretical and practical activities conducted by the Growing Up Right Institute in their communities – normally in the school where they attend normal classes or in venues provided by the municipal administrations, which also provide for food and transport logistics thus making it viable for the adolescents to attend the course.
Other two programs run by the Growing Up Right Institute were presented to the partner institutions in the afternoon. The Program of Best Entrepreneurship Practices for Education, carried out in partnership with the municipality of Canguçu, was implemented in 2020 and has already reached its third edition. Adriano Emmel, social educator who conducts the activities, explained that the initiative consists in sharing methodological tools tested and approved by the pedagogical team of the Rural Professional Learning Program with the aim to provide the participants and the professionals of the educational area with broadened knowledge for their entrepreneurial educational activities. At the moment, the program includes 15 schoolmasters, from 15 rural schools of the municipality. The teacher at the EMEF President Castelo Branco, in Canguçu, Lilian Mota Eichholz, member of the program, gave her testimony to the participants.
And the presentation agenda was concluded with the word of the Institute’s Project Development coordinator, Graziele Pinton, followed by the professor of the Social Communication Department of the University of Santa Cruz do Sul (UNISC), Alexandre Borges, and former dean at UNISC, professor Carmen Lúcia de Lima Helfer, who spoke about the activities of the program Us for Them – Giving a voice to Rural Women, in operation since 2017 in partnership with the university. From then, five editions have been held with the graduation of 36 young girls, all of them prepared to be multipliers of themes sensitive to the female reality in the countryside.
Know more at: www.crescerlegal.com.br
Photos: Junio Nunes
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