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Integrating Education into a Comprehensive Child Labor Prevention Strategy
June 2000

South America MapIn Brazil, where a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, families see little choice but to send their underage children to work. Although the government ratified a Children and Adolescent Act to extend citizens’ rights to youth and signed the International Labor Organization Child Labor Conventions, millions of children and youth in Brazil continue to work, with about one in five working under hazardous and abusive conditions. The majority of underage urban child laborers are involved in the informal labor sector, which includes prostitution, garbage picking, and domestic work. Child labor contributes to low school enrollment levels, high repetition and dropout rates, and a high rate of illiteracy among children and youth.

To address this issue, a BEPS team provided technical assistance to USAID/Brazil to develop a preliminary strategy for using basic education to reduce abusive child labor. Team members reviewed documents and data concerning the magnitude of the problem and the programs that were currently being implemented. They visited sites and conducted interviews with over 20 groups and organizations in Salvador, Fortaleza, and Recife. Design options were specifically tailored to the circumstances of the northeastern region, where underage work is prevalent and where USAID/Brazil has been implementing a program to help at-risk children and youth.

From this analysis, the BEPS team proposed a strategy to minimize child labor by strengthening basic education and complementary nonformal education activities with assistance to existing family support structures, coordinating and integrating child labor policies, and better implementing these policies at the national, state, and local levels.


  • Strategy for USAID/Brazil’s Child Labor/Education Initiative

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USAID: From the American People
Creative Associates International Inc. Basic Education and Policy Support Activity (BEPS)