The project helps working children to withdraw from dangerous labour activities and go to school. The project‚Äôs innovative education programme responds to the specific needs of child workers, helping them to develop the emotional, social and cognitive skills they need to successfully integrate into mainstream education. Crucially, the project works with families to help them understand the importance of education and build their own skills, so that they encourage their children to withdraw from harmful labour activities and reduce the pressure on them to work, and is developing an educational model which can be used throughout Colombia and beyond.
It ran from to
Registered Charity in England and Wales (1075037)
Cali, Colombia‚Äôs third largest city, is one of the most impoverished and violent in Colombia. Here working children make a few pesos begging, selling sweets on street corners, washing windscreens at traffic lights or searching in dangerous rubbish dumps for items they can ‚Äúrecycle‚Äù. By spending their days on the streets, children are vulnerable to being drawn into more dangerous ways of making a living, including petty crime and sex work. Child work not only denies these children a childhood but also the opportunity to gain an education. Children often work long hours and do not have the time to go to school. If they are ever able to return to school they are behind their peer group and often bullied. With limited time and resources, teachers rarely have the training to deal with their needs. As a result, it is estimated that 70% of child workers in Colombia do not go to school or drop out after a few years. The project is divided into four key phases: 1) Outreach: The project makes contact with children and families at their places of work ‚Äì in market places, at traffic lights, at rubbish dumps ‚Äì and in their communities. The focus is on building trust and encouraging children and their families to participate in the project. 2) Learning to Learn: Children attend ACJ, and, through a personalised process of interactive learning and emotional support lasting around two years, learn how to concentrate, communicate, share with others, resolve conflicts peacefully and follow instructions as well as to read and write. These are things we often take for granted but which these children have never had a chance to develop. 3) Integration into Formal Education: Once children have completed the ‚Äúlearning to learn‚Äù process, ACJ supports children to join mainstream education ‚Äì tailored to the needs of each individual child. Younger children may be able to enroll in their grade at a local school, other children may be able to attend schools offering ‚Äúaccelerated learning‚Äù, covering up to five grades (rather than one) in a year and helping children catch up with their peers. Some children may join mixed age formal lessons in an informal setting. Older children may be supported to join a college or vocational training scheme. 4) Study support: It is crucial that children who have entered formal education are able to keep up with its demands and stay at school, so children attend ACJ either in the mornings or afternoons (depending on when they are not at school). ACJ provides individual support, and children can participate in a range of creative and recreational workshops and activities. Older children act as mentors to the younger children on the project, for example teaching them how to look after the plants at the project‚Äôs on-site fruit and vegetable patch.
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