Child labour

Students in Hanoi speak out against child labour through artistic expression

Students in Hanoi raise awareness on child labour through drama performances as part of the programme, Supporting Children’s Rights through Education, Arts and the Media (SCREAM), which is being implemented across the country with support from ILO.

Bài viết | Ngày 26 tháng 2 năm 2020
Phú Nghĩa is one of the schools implementing SCREAM programme.

Earlier this year, on the peri-urban fringes of Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, students and teachers at Phú Nghĩa school organized an afternoon of drama, perfomances, presentations and quizzes to spread the message of child labour prevention from the school yard to the community. Attended by students, teachers, journalists and local officials, the occasion gathered around 500 participants.
The event, which took place on an unseasonably warm and bright day in Chương Mỹ district, was organized as part of the innovative programme, Supporting Children’s Rights through Education, Arts and the Media (SCREAM). Phú Nghĩa is one of the many schools in the region implementing the SCREAM programme with support from the ILO project, Enhancing National Capacity to Prevent and Reduce Child Labour in Viet Nam (ENHANCE).

Originally launched by the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the SCREAM- Stop Child Labour programme equips young people with the tools to convey messages on child labour via artistic expression, which has proven a powerful medium to engage and inform young people and catalyse social change within communities.

Students at Phú Nghĩa School showcased the effectiveness of this approach. In addition to dance performances, a series of three plays written by the students were performed on the topic of child labour, each of which evidenced a nuanced understanding of the issue. The message of the first play, Chi’s Story, stressed the importance of mobilizing community members to speak out against child labour when encountered in local businesses. The second play, Mr and Mrs Nam’s family, highlighted the impact of dropping out of school early and the vital role of teachers in preventing child labour; and the final play, Poor Family, skilfully illustrated the role of poverty in driving child labour and the power of children’s voices in asserting their own rights.

After the performances, students took part in a quiz on child labour followed by three student led presentations on the topic, which demonstrated an impressive level of knowledge amongst the students and highlighted the capacity of children to clearly articulate the impacts of child labour to their peers with confidence and conviction.

By engaging young people in the global campaign against child labour and recognizing them as agents of change, the goal of SCREAM is to promote a culture of respect for children’s rights within schools, families and communities.

Oanh, a teacher at Phú Nghĩa School who was trained to deliver the SCREAM programme, emphasizes the significant changes she has witnessed since the innovative methodology was introduced into the curriculum.

“We’re now confident that students are able to explain the impacts of child labour, and the legal regulations against it to their families and caregivers”, Oanh comments.

The thing that is uniquely effective about the SCREAM approach, she goes on, is that the methodology promotes the active participation of students, as opposed to the one way transmission of information.

The innovative approach encourages target audiences to take the lead in the awareness raising process and personally engage with the issue of child labour, as opposed to passively receiving information. This significantly strengthens the resonance of the message for participants.

Attesting to this, Mai, a student who gave a presentation during the event, said that while this was challenging for her, it was an experience she would never forget.

According to Nam, a student who acted in one of the plays, his knowledge of child labour prior to the programme was limited, but he now understands its causes and consequences on a much deeper level.

Despite being at the early stages of implementation, Oanh predicts that the SCREAM programme will lead to a reduced number of children at risk of child labour in the community. She elaborates that when children acquire a deeper understanding of child labour, this in turn influences the mind sets of their families and caregivers.

A high degree of knowledge and understanding of child labour across all levels of society is crucial to its prevention and elimination, which remains an urgent undertaking. Globally there are an estimated 152 million children engaged in child labour worldwide.

Viet Nam is no exception to this trend; a 2012 National Child Labour Survey reported more than 1.7 million children engaged in child labour in the country, which is equal to one in ten children in Vietnam. seven out of ten of these children work in agriculture in predominantly informal settings and 42 per cent of working children do not attend school.

A series of three plays on child labour written by students are performed on the stage.
Under its mandate of promoting decent work for all, the ILO works to ensure that all children are protected from labour exploitation and that their rights to education are safeguarded. This will ensure that future generations can go on to access safe and productive employment as adults and strive for a better life for themselves and their families.

To make this vision a reality in Viet Nam, the Government has committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal target 8.7 to end all forms of child labour by 2025 and eliminate human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030. Underscoring the Government’s commitment to this objective, Viet Nam has taken on the role of pathfinder country for Alliance 8.7- a global partnership to accelerate progress towards this vital target.

To support the Government’s efforts, the ILO ENHANCE Project is implementing a comprehensive, multistakeholder response to child labour in Viet Nam in partnership with the Department of Child Affairs under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). Since its implementation in 2016, the project has initiated wide ranging activities under three core components: Capacity building, direct interventions and awareness raising.

SCREAM has been a key feature of the project’s community level awareness raising strategy. Since adapting the SCREAM package to a Vietnamese context in 2018, the ENHANCE project has been supporting SCREAM training for officials from Departments of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISAs) and Departments of Education and Training (DOETs) to establish a pool of master trainers across the project’s three target provinces, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang.

As a result, a number of teachers have been trained to deliver the SCREAM methodology to students and multiple SCREAM events have been organized with the participation thousands of targeted students and households, teachers, commune officials and child care and protection collaborators.

Due to the success of these activities, the ENHANCE project will continue to support MOLISA to expand the pool of SCREAM trainers at national level across all 63 provinces in Viet Nam. As such, it is expected that SCREAM events will continue to be replicated throughout the country after the project ends. This will enable the Government to integrate the SCREAM approach into the implementation of its upcoming National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Reduction of Child Labour.

By leveraging the power of education and the arts to transform perceptions of child labour, and actively involving target groups in this process, long term results can be sustained; as today’s young people grow up to become tomorrow’s parents, workers, employers and decision makers, they will go on to drive social change. As students at Phú Nghĩa school exemplified, when empowered with the knowledge and tools to communicate their rights, children are more than capable of rising to this challenge.