During an event Monday morning, Costa Rica announced an initiative to get more than 40,000 children out of the workforce. The multipronged approach builds off previous efforts to reduce child labor and aims to eliminate the practice altogether by 2020.
If the program meets its goal for 2015, 28,000 fewer children between the ages of 5 and 17 will be in the workforce.
The program, based on a previous one launched in 2010 during President Laura Chinchilla’s administration (2010-2014), targets dangerous work done by children, sex work and human trafficking, along with other forms of child labor. According to the 2011 census, an estimated 47,400 child workers existed in Costa Rica, down from 113,000 in 2002.
The program coordinates efforts from several government agencies to reduce child labor by fighting poverty, improving health and education policy, enhancing the legal system and raising awareness.
Leonardo Ferreira, assistant director with the International Labor Organization’s Subregional Office for Central America, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Panama, said the strategy would accelerate Costa Rica’s efforts and set it on its way to eradicating child labor by the 2020 deadline.
Child labor is illegal in Costa Rica for youngsters under 15. Minors between 15 and 18 are regulated and permitted to work only if it does not harm the child’s physical or mental state, or their access to education, according to Casa Presidencial.
“Boys and girls should study, play and receive love from their families. Nothing more than that, and any kind of child labor is unacceptable from any point of view,” said Vice President Ana Helena Chacón in a statement from Casa Presidencial.