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January 30, 2021

BanQu and JTI Are Working to End Child Labor; Here Are Some of Their Success Stories

Children smiling while wearing school uniforms

Learn how BanQu and JTI are using education and awareness, socio-economic empowerment, and legal and regulatory frameworks to work together to end child labor around the globe.

In a previous post, we talked about how BanQu and JTI are working together to end child labor worldwide via the ARISE program. This is a complex issue, but solving it is of vital importance for children around the world. Ideally, childhood should be enjoyed and cherished, and children should grow up to have economic opportunities without having to spend their developmental years doing hard labor.

A complex undertaking

Because this is such a complex issue, ARISE has identified three pillars to consider while looking for solutions.

Respect for human rights

All solutions must respect the human rights of those involved. While it seems easy to legislate away child labor, doing so creates imbalances in the economy that could impact these children for the rest of their lives. It’s important to cultivate solutions that lift children out of child labor and place them in situations in which they can thrive.

Improved social and environmental impact

Solutions should also consider the environmental impact. If we look toward sustainable, environmentally-friendly solutions, we’re considering the long-term effects of ending child labor. Ideally, all crops should be grown and harvested sustainably. This means the goal of releasing children from hard labor comes with the benefit of ensuring they’ll have a sustainable future ahead of them.

Good corporate governance and business standards

While legislative solutions can be tricky, creating higher business standards brings a lot of these issues into the light. If companies that benefit from child labor are seen as outsiders, then more companies will naturally want to steer away from these practices. Of course, transparency is key here. In our current corporate landscape, a lack of transparency means companies can get away with exploiting child labor while most people don’t even notice. With transparency coupled with higher business standards, companies are demotivated to continue these unethical practices.

A three-pronged approach

With those things in mind, the ARISE program has already been improving the world in three key areas: education, socio-economic empowerment, and legal and regulatory frameworks.

Let’s take a closer look at the impact ARISE has already had on the world.

Education and awareness

Children should be in school rather than working in fields, mines, or factories. Children who are better educated are better prepared to face the realities of adulthood. On top of this, communities also need to be aware of these issues, because sometimes it takes the community coming together to solve some of these problems.

ARISE has had a substantial impact on both educating youths and raising awareness of child labor. Let’s look at some success stories.

School meals in Tanzania

One of the reasons children go to work instead of school is because they need to eat. When meals are paid for with wages but not provided at school, it only makes sense to go to the place that will fill your stomach with calories rather than the place that fills your head with knowledge.

This is why JTI created the Table for Two initiative. Table for Two enables schools in Africa to provide fresh vegetables to students by means of a community garden. Not only does this provide the freshest food for students, but it gives teachers the opportunity to teach them about sustainable farming and nutrition. Instead of growing food for corporations, these students can grow food for themselves and their community, while being overseen by educators who can transform this into a learning experience with long-lasting benefits.

In 2019, JTI provided five schools with maize milling machines. Maize is a majority crop in Tanzania, representing 45% of Tanzania’s cultivated area. These milling machines process it so that it’s safe for consumption.

Taine Jumanne, Head Teacher at Ilugu Primary School in Tanzania, said, “The school’s feeding program encourages attendance because families know their children receive a meal.”

Joshua Abel Shavu is one of the students impacted by this program. Not only has his attendance improved since the program was implemented, but his grades have too. “In the past, when we did not have food at home,” says Joshua, “I would have to go to work to earn enough money to buy it. Now, each morning I go to school knowing that I will get food there.” With great pride he adds, “I am one of the top students in the district. I like mathematics and science and I want to be a pilot one day.”

Learning resources in Malawi

Njoka Primary School in Malawi had a major challenge to overcome: They had 13 teachers responsible for the education of 1,700 students. Without additional resources, it became difficult to retain students and capture their attention, resulting in poor attendance.

The ARISE program partnered with these teachers and trained them to create their own visual aids to make it easier to explain complex problems. Based on the Teaching and Learning Using Locally Available Resources (TALULAR) concept, teachers were trained to make their own maps, globes, abacuses, and letters.

One teacher at the school, Silasi Chisalipo, says, “Before the training, it was difficult to explain abstract concepts to students… Students did not find the lessons interesting and it resulted in poor attendance and many dropped out.”

Daniel Stodesi, a student at Njoka Primary School, agrees: “It was hard for me to understand how the earth rotates on its axis and the map of Malawi without actually seeing it. My teacher would draw on the board, but we could easily forget what we were taught.”

ARISE partnered with the school in 2014, and in just five years, the percentage of students who continue from Standard 8 to the next class up has increased from 64% to 94%. The percentage of students selected to continue to secondary school grew from 16% to 67%.

After-school programs in Brazil

Even when they attend school, children can still be vulnerable to after-school labor. This is especially the case in southern Brazil, where a strong work ethic is simply part of the culture. This work ethic is a good thing in general, but it has the downside of pressuring children to begin working at a very young age.

To help prevent children from working after school, ARISE has created After School Programs (ASPs) that offer activities such as drama, arts, dance, music, theater, sports, and gardening. Workshops create spaces where children can be mentored in the activities they love, which instills passion for activities outside of school and work.

In 2016, six schools were selected based on their ASPs to receive solar panels from JTI. These schools are now completely self-reliant, and the money that is saved on energy costs is now being invested back into extracurricular activities.

Mafalda Pippi, Principal of Jose Luchese School says, “ARISE After School Programs grant the children with opportunities and options that they did not have access to before. The happiness of the children is priceless.”

Model farm schools in Zambia

For some children, vocational education makes more sense than a traditional school model. For these students, integrating into a standard school system can be difficult. Because of this, the ARISE program provides an alternative: Model Farm Schools.

The ARISE program enrolled 25 children who had been rescued from child labor into an ARISE Model Farm School in Mawilo, Zambia. There, they learned about practical poultry farming techniques, health and safety, marketing, and cultivating basic life skills.

After six months, these students were given access to an incubator and ten chickens. It was estimated that within four months, they could multiply this to over 500 chickens. They have since begun to sell chickens and eggs at local markets.

Said Imisuku, one of the MFS students, says, “We had no hope and no source of employment. We were looked down on by our community because we were school dropouts. But now, with the knowledge and support we received through the MFS, our lives have changed and we are considered productive by our community.” 

Agribusiness training in Brazil

In Brazil, the ARISE program offers agricultural and business training to youths who have already completed school. One of the people who benefited from this training was Luana da Silveira Dries, who went on to monitor children with disabilities at her local elementary school, while assisting her husband with the family crops.

“The ARISE program is very important to me,” says Luana, now in her mid-20s. “Now I’m a monitor at a school, but I still live in the countryside and whenever possible I help my husband cultivate crops. We have tobacco and soy as cash crops, as well as corn, beans, cassava, and sweet potato. I am putting what I learned into practice and I make a point of including our own produce on our table. I want to pass on that knowledge that the professionals from ARISE taught me to my children.”

Anti-child-labor clubs in Malawi

Putting together clubs is a great way to raise awareness about specific issues. In the case of Mchemani Primary School in Lilongwe Rural East, Malawi, that awareness has been translated into action.

The ARISE Anti-Child-Labor Club at this school has 47 members who meet to discuss child labor in their community and strategize ways to end it. They encourage their peers to return to school, and when that’s not enough, they get local officials involved.

Nowelo Maxson was rescued from a hopeless cycle of child labor after the club brought the issue to the local traditional leader. Nowelo’s parents were eventually convinced to send Nowelo back to school, and he’s since become a member of the ARISE Anti-Child-Labor Club himself.

“I am thankful to the Anti-Child-Labor Club,’ says Nowelo, “and I plan to continue with my secondary education.”

Community Child Labor Committees in Zambia

Another great way to raise community awareness is by forming Community Child Labor Committees (CCLC). This work requires knowledge of local laws, as well as information about how to spot the warning signs of child labor. ARISE works with CCLC members to provide them with the training they need in order to reduce child labor in their communities.

In Mawilo, a community in Zambia, CCLC members watch for cases of child labor and work to advocate with families to remove children from those dangerous situations. The group was formally registered with the Ministry of Community Development in Kaoma, which gives them more resources for doing this work. In fact, since becoming registered, the Pilot Programme Climate Resilience (PPCR) provided a grant to the Mawilo CCLC, which was designed to supplement the ARISE chicken-rearing project at the Model Farm School.

Mwala Nchiyamwa, a Mawilo CCLC Chairperson, says, “The registration has helped us grow economically and we have changed the way we see things at the community level. We understand how important it is to collaborate with others in the fight against child labor if we want to achieve maximum results.”

Socio-economic empowerment

Ending child labor is not just a singular focus, but one that requires a series of complex, interlinking solutions. Providing alternatives to child labor is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. Another piece is helping impoverished families become financially stable, which encourages them to keep their children in school instead of sending them to work.

Women’s agribusiness groups in Malawi

In Chabula, Mawali, ARISE supports a local Women’s Agribusiness Group (WAG), which meets every week to train and encourage women to start their own businesses. One woman, Annie Ludoviko, was able to use a small loan to start a business. She was able to raise enough funds to repay the loan and to pay for her son’s education.

Her son, Yamikani Ludoviko Jaziyo, is studying Agriculture Extension, and has been selected to pursue secondary education. He says, “Before the group, life was hard. I would go to school on an empty stomach and in a torn school uniform. I Found it hard to concentrate in class. After my mother joined the group, our lives changed completely. There was food everyday and we could afford my schooling.”

This is just one example of how empowering impoverished women to become financially independent has a direct impact on ending child labor.

Village savings and loans groups in Tanzania

Amina Hamisi grows crops for a living in Motomoto community in Urambo District, Tanzania. Unfortunately, the profit she makes on these crops isn’t sufficient to support her eight children. This means her children have had to work in other people’s farms, which caused them to miss school frequently. She and her family became beneficiaries of the ARISE program, which helped her get enrolled in the Upendo Village Savings and Loans (VSL) Group.

This VSL Group trained her in financial management, agribusiness, entrepreneurship, and child labor. She was also able to buy shares in the group and save money that way. Since then, she’s been able to establish a business that sells shelled and unshelled ground nuts, and she’s also getting into selling soap.

Amina says, “I have managed to buy a family bicycle and a sewing machine, which also gives us extra income. I bough 24 iron sheets to improve my house and have even bought a piece of land where I will construct a storeroom for my produce.”

She adds, “All my eight children are now in school and are no longer working in farms.”

Youth producer clubs in Tanzania

Once they complete school, students need to be able to apply what they’ve learned on a practical scale. ARISE Youth Producer Clubs (YPC) were created to fill this gap. Not only does this give students a clear career path, but it also discourages them from getting involved in illegal activities like thievery and drug use.

In Usindi Community, Tanzania, the YPC was given start-up kits that included seeds, fertilizer, and protective gear. They were able to cultivate a half-acre of maize, as well as a quarter-acre of other crops (including peppers, eggplant, and pumpkins). They later added a plot for growing watermelons.

Rashidi Nasibu, one of the members of this group, says, “I live with my grandparents. Last year I talked to my grandfather about the agriculture methods I had learned but he refused to adopt them. This year, I tried again to convince him and he finally agreed because of our group’s success. We used the techniques I learned on our home farm and had good results. Last year, we harvested four bags of maize, but this year we harvested nine.”

As you can see, not only do these programs reduce child labor, but they also have ripple effects that improve the community at large.

Regulation alone can’t solve the problem of child labor. However, when other solutions are already being implemented, having laws and regulations can make the process much more efficient.

Promotion and participation

ARISE takes all this work another step further by approaching governments and presenting the case that ending child labor is of vital importance. Governments in Brazil, Malawi, and Tanzania have shown willingness to be a part of the solution.

Child labor is a complex problem, and every community has its own issues that feed into it. But by getting involved in these communities, then bringing the problem before broader government bodies, the ARISE program has been able to effectively reduce child labor.

Jana Everett, Global Program Manager for ARISE, says, “We develop strong and trusted relationships, and share our skills, technical expertise and on-the-ground experience to help build capacity for improved legislation and child protection activities.”

Conclusion

While there have been notable improvements in communities thanks to the programs we’ve outlined here, there’s still plenty of work to be done. ARISE continues to find new ways to approach the problem, along with impactful solutions that make the world a better place for everyone.

BanQu creates blockchain solutions for some of the modern world's biggest challenges, such as supply chain transparency and identity platforms for impoverished populations. We believe that with blockchain's bright future, world poverty can become a thing of the past.