|Children in Sa Binh Commune, Kon Tum Province work as gold panners. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed a US$25 million plan to fight child labour in Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa.
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam hopes to increase awareness of child labour and improve the legal framework to protect children at risk under a five-year programme costing VND516 billion (US$25 million).
The plan, drafted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs for next year, would include building a national database on child labour and increasing agencies' capacity for dealing with violations.
Funding would be drawn from state and local budgets, as well as international sources.
Poverty is the main cause of child labour, said Dang Hoa Nam, deputy head of the Department of Child Protection under the Ministry of Labour.
Nam told a recent event on child labor that the legal framework used to monitor and prosecute violators was limited.
Ngo Thi Minh, deputy chairperson of the National Assembly Committee on Culture, Education and Youth, said child labour was prevalent in Ha Noi, Thanh Hoa, Vinh Long, HCM City and Lao Cai.
A high number of children in those cities drop out of school because they need to work, and are often abused.
"There are many children who have to work at an early age, and the labour sector has not been updated on this," Minh said.
"We know that many localities do not have enough information on children who migrate to work in other areas and their working conditions."
Minh said Viet Nam had not been consistent in codifying the age at which child labour ended and legal labor began. The Law on Child Protection identifies it as those under 16, while the Labour Code says under 15.
In addition, she said the Government must create more mechanisms for detecting child labour and prosecuting violators.
According to the draft plan, it will be implemented nationwide and focus on areas with a high number of child workers, especially in informal trades, agriculture, aquaculture, housework, household handicrafts and mineral exploitation.
Cao Thi Thanh Thuy, head of the International Co-operation Department under the labour ministry, said reducing child labour would improve Vietnamese exports' reputation, because many producers and sellers must comply with strict fair-trade standards.
Authorities are hoping the five-year programme will help reduce the number of children involved and lower the cost of supporting them and their education.
According to the first National Child Labour Survey launched in Ha Noi in March by the labour ministry and the International Labour Organisation, an estimated 9.6 per cent of children aged five to 17 in Viet Nam are child workers, equivalent to about 1.75 million children. — VNS