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Philippines bets on appeal of education to fight child labour

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Philippines bets on appeal of education to fight child labour
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: Marnel Arcones’s face lights up with a huge smile when he talks about going back to school after years of toiling as a child worker in factories, on farms and as a domestic helper.

When he was 15 his mother left the family, his father could no longer support his seven children on his meagre wages as a day labourer in the Eastern Visayas, one of the Philippines’ poorest regions, and Arcones had to quit school and work.

“I was very sad to leave school but my family is so poor that I had no choice,” the skinny 21-year-old said outside the small wooden house he shares with his brother in Cambayan village, a hamlet in the Basey district of Samar island.

Arcones became one of the estimated 5.5 million children aged 5 to 17 in the Philippines who work – nearly 20 percent of the country’s youth.

Almost three million of them work in hazardous jobs, mostly in mining, agriculture and sex work, while the rest help out on family-owned farms or do light work that does not harm their health or disrupt their education.

Demand for child labour is high across Asia, the world’s fastest growing economic region. Almost half the world’s 168 million child labourers are in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the International Labour Organization.

FROM LIGHT WORK TO HARD LABOUR

Arcones first worked as a domestic helper in a nearby city, before moving to the capital Manila where higher wages in a factory meant he could send more money home to his family.

But long hours and big city life were hard for the shy country boy. He returned home to his village where good jobs were scarce, so he took whatever work he could find.

“The work was really, really hard. I worked long hours and carried heavy sacks of rice and timber pieces from the mountains,” he said. “But I couldn’t give up. I had to work so my younger siblings could go to school.”

He shows the large scar on his stomach – the result of surgery for a hernia he developed because of the heavy lifting.

Jobs became even scarcer after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Eastern Visayas in 2013, prompting Arcones to accept help from aid agency Terre des Hommes, which works in the region to encourage children to go back to school.

He has been back in secondary school since June last year, with financial support from Terre des Hommes.

“I get teased a lot because I’m so ‘old’ but I don’t mind, I’m so happy to be back in school and this time I will stay because I want a better life,” he beams.

He has become a youth representative on his village council and is keen to spread the word to children about the benefits of continuing school beyond elementary level.

SURVIVAL FIRST, EDUCATION LATER

Aid workers and teachers say sending children to work is a way of life in many of the Philippines’ rural areas, which despite robust overall economic growth remain mired in poverty.

More than 45 percent of people in the Eastern Visayas are poor compared with 25 percent nationwide, according to the World Bank.

“Poverty is the main reason why many children leave school,” said Donabelle Abalo, a local project manager at Terre des Hommes. “But it’s also part of the culture. Many parents don’t value education because they didn’t finish school themselves.”

Even though education is free, many children do not attend school because the cost of books, uniforms, meals and transport is prohibitive for their families.

“Survival comes first here before sending kids to school,” said Cipriano Gadil, a mobile teacher with the government’s Alternative Learnings Systems programme which offers informal education to out-of-school children.

“It’s hard work because we have few resources here,” said Gadil, who covers 30 communities in the district with just one colleague. “We have a lot of convincing to do because many children go to school hungry, so they’d rather drop out and work.”

In the nearby Simeon Ocdol high school, which was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, headteacher Maria Teresa Refugio said staff work hard at trying to persuade parents to send their children to school.

“Luckily, we have few dropouts. But it’s a continuous process of reaching out and convincing parents, so that attitudes change,” she said.

Before Typhoon Haiyan many children were already working in agriculture but the loss of family income after the disaster has pushed more into hazardous work, Abalo said.

The government, concerned about the rising number of children being trafficked for labour after Haiyan, launched a plan to root out the worst forms of child labour by 2016, with access to education a key plank of its strategy.

The Philippines has also ratified all key international conventions concerning child labour.

But a 2014 U.S. government report on the worst forms of child labour in the Philippines said that, though Manila had almost doubled the number of labour law compliance officers, enforcement remained challenging due to the limited number of inspectors and lack of resources for inspections.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival

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IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival | The Thaiger

The International Air Transport Association is proposing travellers to take a Covid test prior to departure to replace worldwide mandatory quarantines on arrival. The push comes after it announces that international travel is down by 92% this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many countries are imposing mandatory quarantines that can be not only expensive but up to 14 days long, the IATA is calling for all countries to work together to create a pre-flight testing requirement in all airports.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO says that Covid testing is getting faster, cheaper and more accurate, which is why it is urgent to help kick-start the world economy by doing away with mandatory quarantines.

“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travelers before departure. This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work.”

He says the removal of such quarantine requirements for nations like Canada and UK would also help those nationals to leave their countries confidently by knowing that accurate testing would be in place. IATA has also asked for feedback and says of those travellers polled, 65% agree that if a person tests negative for Covid-19, then they should not have to undergo a quarantine on arrival. 84% also agree that, instead, travellers should be required to get tested with 88% even agreeing that they would submit to testing as part of the travel process.

Over 5000 travel businesses have reportedly backed the IATA’s proposal after submitting an open letter to the president of the European Commission, demanding the EU to take action. However, testing and later vaccinating 75 billion people could prove to be a monumental task, one that may take months to devise a streamlined plan to carry out.

SOURCE: Travel Off Path

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog”

The Thaiger

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Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog” | The Thaiger

The world’s Covid-19-related deaths will pass 1 million today as the the cycle of country lockdowns and re-openings are getting mixed results. As of this morning, Thai time, the number of total deaths has reached 998,721 , with 4-6,000 deaths still being recorded, globally, every day. The surge in daily new world Covid-19 cases has levelled off a bit since July but there has still been 300-320,000 new cases being added every day in September. On a more positive note, the number of daily deaths continues to level off, even dropping some weeks, as treatments continue to improve. At this stage, officially, only .42% of the world’s population has so far been infected.

The milestone comes in a week where another report from the UK catalogues the “brain fog” experienced by former Covid-19 sufferers.

 

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'The current hotspots for the virus, now 9 months in circulation, of new daily cases is led by India. Yesterday India added nearly 90,000 cases to the world total whilst the US is showing a resurgence in new cases after dropping the average down during August. There is also a resurgence in new cases in parts of Europe, including the UK, which is now recording more new cases as it was at its peak in the first wave in April and May this year. The following graphs records the top 10 countries for new Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday…

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Both South America and India are showing the highest rates of new cases, in pure numbers whilst US health authorities are concerned about the latest surge in new cases as the country starts to head into its autumn and cooler weather.

Meanwhile, more former Covid-19 patients, even those who only suffered mild symptoms, continue to report about long-term effects from the coronavirus.

In Canada, some 130,000 Canadians have recovered but some patients report that they’re experiencing “debilitating side effects” months after their infection. Canadian scientists report that they are finding some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 include heart damage as well as neurological issues like “brain fog” and “difficulty thinking”. Other patients are reporting hair loss, fatigue and even painful lesions called “Covid toes,” many weeks or even months after infection.

One study based out of Italy reports that nearly 90% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 reported at least one persistent symptom two months later.

39 doctors wrote about these “long-haulers” and their battle with Covid-19 and their persistent symptoms in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal. Following the report, the doctors called on politicians, scientists and public health officials to conduct more research into chronic Covid-19 symptoms and to create additional clinical services.

“Failure to understand the underlying biological mechanisms causing these persisting symptoms risks missing opportunities to identify risk factors, prevent chronicity, and find treatment approaches for people affected now and in the future.”

The reports also defined the affected patients as not in the current list of “at risk” Covid-19 patients – usually elderly with underlying conditions – but instead representing a much wider demographic of younger and healthy patients who were experiencing the post-Covid symptoms.

SOURCE: BBC | CTV News

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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