|Brazilian President Lula with "child friendly" journalists|
BRASILIA, 22 July 2004 – "We must declare war against the calamity that involves thousands of children in Brazil,” Brazilian president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva said in an exclusive press conference for twelve reporters from the Child Friendly Journalists project.
The event, organized by the News Agency for Children´s Rights (ANDI), occurred in Brasilia as a closing activity in the week commemorating the 14th anniversary of the national law on childhood and adolescence rights in Brazil.
The topics on child and teenage rights should be seen as "the greatest priority is his government,” Lula said. He also spoke about the "First Job" programme, and his government's commitment to eradicate child labour and sexual exploitation.
When speaking of child labor, the president reminded that he started working at the age of 11 and guaranteed that his government will do everything to change this reality.
"We will increase by 14 per cent the attention for children and teenagers victim of child labor,” he said in reference to the Program for Eradicating Child Labor, known as PETI.
President Lula stated that the family must be supported in taking responsibility for its children and adolescents. "There is no solution outside of the family, therefore this is not only a question of resources but also of overcoming current family disintegration,” he added.
He further emphasized that the challenges in getting a quality education need to be faced. And that Brazil needs to invest more in teachers' training. "If 49 per cent of the children in the fourth grade cannot understand what they read, what are these children doing in school?" he asked even while recognizing
that the nearly universalitation of school enrolment is an achievement, but may itself not be enough. He committed himself to approving the Basic Education Fund (FUNDEB) until the end of his administration.
Organizers of this event said it represented an important moment for the agenda of children and adolescent's in Brazil.
The Child Friendly Journalist project gathers 285 journalists. It is an ANDI initiative with support from Petrobras, Fundação ABRINQ, ANDI, and UNICEF.