Costa Rica is the country in Latin America with the lowest employment rate for children and teenagers, with 1.3% in 2021, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC). This is a figure that places the country in the margin of error. Even in 2020, Costa Rica was accepted as a pioneer country in Alliance 8.7, as a recognition that demonstrates the efforts made in the fight against dangerous child and adolescent labor.
That is why, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day Against Child Labor, which is celebrated every June 12th, the official ceremony was held at the JoaquínGarcíaMonge School, located in Desamparados, with the participation of the President of the Republic, Rodrigo Chaves Robles, the Minister of Public Education, Anna Katharina Müller Castro, and the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Security, Luis Paulino Mora Lizano. Authorities from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and representatives of the employer and worker sectors also participated.
The purpose of the commemoration is to highlight the situation faced by many minors who work to help their families financially, leaving aside their academic training and healthy leisure activities. Costa Rica, having international recognition and positioning, is committed to carrying out specific, focused efforts and strategic actions that will allow reaching goal 8.7 of Sustainable Development by 2025 and effectively declaring the national territory free of child labor.
For 2022, the World Day against Child Labor, has as its motto “Universal Social Protection to Eradicate Child Labor”, therefore, the emphasis should be on the Government’s commitment to increase, or maintain, the protection systems developed at the state level to identify, accompany and guarantee the rights of the working population of minors.
To achieve the goal of being a country free of child labor, it is necessary to continue with poverty reduction programs, encourage employment, improve education and promote permanence in it, and implement social protection policies that benefit the whole family. Thus, successes in the fight against poverty bring with them political stability and general economic growth, which discourage child labor. In this fight, the education sector becomes a fundamental pillar to prevent child and adolescent labor from increasing.
In this regard, the Vice Minister of Labor and Social Security, Luis Paulino Mora Lizano, pointed out that “Costa Rica aspires to be a country free of dangerous child and adolescent labor, today we are quite close to the goal, this without a doubt is a challenge that will become a reality thanks to the effort and commitment of the different sectors. Achieving the goal of eradication is important, but sustaining it is even more relevant, because it implies maintaining social, economic and cultural change, in order to avoid regression at all costs”.
The Ministry of Labor is the rector in the matter and coordinator of the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor, work that will continue to lead this country’s commitment to eradicate child labor, through existing and institutionalized direct attention actions with the respective protocols and strengthening prevention actions and promotion of good practices in the business sector. “Education must always be that safe space in which the dreams and illusions of our children and youth find fertile ground that keeps them away from child labor. We want our educational centers to be environments where joy abounds, so that our student community wants to stay in the classroom knowing that learning is the key to opening the door of opportunity”, said Anna Katharina Müller, Minister of Education.
According to the ECLAC-ILO publication “Child Labor Risk Identification Model” in absolute numbers, for 2016 it is estimated that there are more than 10.4 million boys, girls and adolescents, between 5 and 17 years of age, in child labor situation in the region. In percentage terms, the countries with the highest prevalence of child labor are Haiti (34%), Bolivia (26%), Paraguay (22%) and Peru (21.8%); and those with the lowest prevalence are Costa Rica (2.1%), Panama (2.5%), Belize (3.2%), and Argentina (5.8%).