Education For The Working Children of Jordan

I read this today and thought it was really great news.

AMMAN â?? A new outreach programme is under way by the Kingdom’s labour and education authorities to provide thousands of working children with an improved social safety net and a chance for education.

The new Social Support Centre, under construction in Amman, is the first such government outreach initiative to help support working children in the country.

Developed under a special International Labour Organisation (ILO) programme, the Social Support Centre will provide working children with basic health, social and educational services.

An estimated 38,000 children are currently employed illegally in various industrial and often dangerous trades across the country.

Some of them work part-time, while others have dropped out of school completely.

National Programme Manager of the ILO’s Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour Nihaya Dabdoub said the centre represents a crucial support system for child workers.

“[It] has the capacity to cater to 500 working children who have dropped out of school and face limited opportunities when it comes to having basic services they need,” said Dabdoub.

“It will also provide a practical solution for working children who are unable to return to school or find it difficult to adjust after leaving school for so long,” she added. [more]

There are obviously laws against labour for kids under 16 (as the article states) but I doubt the police have the heart to arrest the kids most of the time. In some cases their labour is abused and a lot of the times you hear about the police shutting down a garage or such place, though the majority of cases are not like that.

The problem is age old. Everyone asks why do poor people have so many kids if they cannot afford them, but that’s just it, they really don’t have to.

Most people who wonder about this are thinking about kids who will be well clothed, well fed, have TVs in their room, have their own room, and of course a great private education. When for the lower classes of society having eight children means hand-me-downs and family dinners based on simple home cooked meals. This is one of the reasons bread is so cheap in Jordan, is the lifeblood for the whole population and specifically the poor, which is why raising the price on bread usually comes with a massive voice of rebellion unlike say raising the prices on cars.

The point is these kids grow up as basic as possible and once they come of age they go off to the work force. Another reason why families love to have sons. You have 5 sons who go out and bring home 20 jds a month, well thats 100 jds of income the father (the breadmaker) did not have to work for.

In most cases, as they grow older they earn more money, get “normal” jobs such as in the military and end up amassing a few hundred JDs. They get married and live with their parents, they just pay for an expansion on the house, another reason why 90% of homes ourside west amman and in the rest of the nation have those rusty iron foundation bars sticking out of the roofs, they are the personifying symbol for family expansion. You’ll find homes with several sections in them for every married son; the daughters when married obviously move out. But most families want to break this vicious cycle: I’ve seen bedouin children near my parent’s house picking out garbage dumpster treasures on their way to and from school.

So the modern Jordanian Family is one giant pot luck. And if this is the only way to survive, if this is the only way to build a family, keep a family and support a family, then what is the incentive to get an education? A child immersed in several years of studies is a cost to the family; a burden they cannot afford. Education is a long run idea and when you’re earning tonight’s dinner life is all about the short run.

And that’s what it’s all about: incentive vs. burden. If something is offered that equals an education being better than the status quo then less children will be on the streets and more in school.

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