Bangkok Post – No more child labor

Today is “World Day Against Child Labour,” reminding Thailand once again of the need to step up efforts to eradicate the horrors of this scourge.

Thailand signed the ILO Convention to End the Worst Forms of Child Labor in 2001. The country also approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, pledging to end all forms of child labor. child labor by 2025. To reiterate Thailand’s commitment, Labor Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn launched a campaign urging all sectors to eliminate child labor by next year.

Despite concerted efforts to end child labor, much remains to be done to deliver on these promises.

This objective remains out of reach due to inconsistencies in labor law. For example, the Labor Protection Law prohibits the labor of children under 15, thus allowing 15-18 year olds to work under certain conditions. Additionally, children under the age of 18 may be employed provided they are directly paid. Migrant children over the age of 15 can also be employed in non-hazardous work.

Although gaps in labor laws need to be closed, the best solution to ending child labor is to ensure that every child receives an education that will allow them to stay in school until the age of 18.

Thailand imposed 15 years of free education, covering three years of kindergarten, six years of primary school and six years of secondary school. Support also includes learning materials, uniforms and school activities. Furthermore, every child in the country, regardless of their identity documents and nationality, has the same right to education. This law has been in force since 2005.

Despite these policies, the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) found that more than one million children aged 3 to 18 were not enrolled in the education system in 2023, prompting the government to launch the Thailand Zero Dropout initiative to bring them back into the system by 2023. 2027.

The problems are both financial and bureaucratic. While many schools require additional expenses from parents, making their children’s education unaffordable, several Ministry of Education regulations hinder access to education, particularly for migrant and refugee children.

For example, free school meal programs only support elementary school students, leaving high school students from poor families struggling. Additionally, undocumented children no longer receive state educational aid if schools are not state-run, under new regulations from the Office of the Private Education Commission (Opec). The Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) also requires Thai nationality to enroll in the home school system. The Tak Province Regional Education Office even prohibits schools from admitting undocumented children and those displaced by wars.

These discriminatory rules lead to school dropouts and force them to enter the job market, where they often find themselves prey to all forms of exploitation.

To truly honor our commitments and safeguard the future of our children, Thailand must move beyond rhetoric and take decisive action. The path forward is clear: close legal loopholes that allow child labor and ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has access to a free and comprehensive education. Only by steadfastly adhering to these principles can we hope to see Thailand free from the scourge of child labor by 2025.

Let this be a call to action to create a society where every child has the chance to learn, grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.