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Preventing Child Labor With Your Smartphone

Preventing Child Labor With Your Smartphone

Here’s a simple idea that’s helping real people. From Telefonica Telecom in Colombia, it’s an app that lets anyone anonymously identify children who are working when they should be in school. So far, more than 1,200 kids have been identified, and more than 60 have been placed in schools.

Unicef says one-in-six children in developing countries aged 5 to 14 are engaged in “child labor” (defined as more than 28 hours a week of economic activity, including household chores). In most of Africa, the proportion is one-in-three.

Children who work either don’t go to school, or their schoolwork suffers–stunting their development, and ultimately their countries’. The International Labor Organization says countries that reduce numbers of children in their workforces do better economically than those that don’t.

In Colombia, 9.2% of children ages 5 to 17–or 1.6 million individuals– are economically active, the UN says. They are most likely to work in mining and agriculture, but also are involved in street-vending, begging, small-scale manufacturing, and even drug trafficking. Between 5,000 and 8,000 kids make up the ranks of armed military groups.

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