Since 1996 the Brazilian government has been able to rescue 930 thousand working children in 2,790 cities. Data from the most recent National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), conducted each year by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), indicates that there are still, however, over 2 million working children in the country.
According to Margarida Munguba, coordinator of the Program for the Erradication of Child Labor (PETI) in the Ministry of Social Development and Hunger Alleviation, the measures to combat child labor must be “permanent.”
Munguba observed that child labor depends upon the dynamics of industrial and agricultural production. She gave as an example the fact that it is sometimes advantageous to work in a shoe factory that has just closed a big export deal, which attracts many families who are looking for employment.
“In agriculture, the demand for workers is greater at harvest time, and children end up being drawn in. That is why the war on child labor must be permanent,” the coordinator explained.
She recalled that, for child labor to be erradicated, the consciousness of families must be raised.
“Child labor cannot be fought only through the payment of a grant. Families have to be shown alternative ways to live, by inserting them in programs to generate income, by encouraging them to participate in literacy programs, by improving the education of parents as well as children,” she added.
Piauí, Maranhão, Pernambuco, and Paraíba are the states in which child labor is most prevalent. The federal government’s goal is to end child labor in the country in 2006.