‘Working children’ in SK get educ’l assistance from Project Angel Tree

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 August) – Some 470 “working children” in Sultan Kudarat province received various educational packages from the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as part of the continuing implementation of the agency’s Project Angel Tree.

Arlene Bisnon, DOLE-Sultan Kudarat provincial director, said they distributed the educational packages to working children who are presently enrolled in various elementary and high schools in the province’s 11 municipalities and lone city.

“This mainly aims at encouraging children from the identified impoverished barangays in the province to continue with their schooling and steer clear from working in farms, selling stuffs in the market or doing laborious tasks that will endanger their lives and health,” she said.

Bisnon said the distribution of the packages was facilitated by DOLE-Sultan Kudarat’s Philippine Program Against Child Labor implementers, the provincial governmen, Department of Education and the public employment services offices in the municipalities of Esperanza, Lambayong, Palimbang, Isulan and Tacurong City.

Ronald Maguale, DOLE-Sultan Kudarat’s Philippine Program Against Child Labor coordinator, said the distributed packages included bags, calculators and dictionaries for Math and English subjects for beneficiaries in the secondary level as well as new slippers, trousers, and tee-shirts for those in elementary grades.

“We saw the glow in the eyes of the beneficiaries when they received the packages. They really treasured them,” he said.

Maguale said eight barangays in Palimbang town received construction materials for their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene or WASH program worth between P165,000 and P200,000.

The beneficiary-barangays were Kolong-Kolong, Badiangon, Barongis, Wal, Baliango, Milbuk, Lupoken and Kraan.

Aside from the distribution of the educational packages, he said they also conducted orientations on anti-child labor, trafficking and pornography laws to the beneficiaries and their parents.

Project Angel Tree was first launched in this city in 2008 and has since been replicated in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

Lawyer Ma. Gloria Tango, DOLE-Region 12 director, said the project is mainly a vehicle to provide the wishes for assistance of child laborers and their families.

“The wishes may come in the form of food, clothing, counseling and mentoring as well as livelihood, education, training and medical assistance,” she said.

So far, Tango said Sultan Kudarat province accounts for the most number of beneficiaries under the project possibly due to the strong support from local government units and the business sector in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)