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News note

Link between student absenteeism, dropout rates and child labour in Armenia

YEREVAN, 30 October 2008 – UNICEF announced today that rapidly increasing student absenteeism and drop-out rates are closely linked to child labour as well as quality of education in Armenia.

Findings of the two UNICEF-supported studies, “Child Labour in Armenia” and “School Wastage Study Focusing on Student Absenteeism in Armenia” reveal that between 2002 and 2005 school dropout rates increased at an alarming rate of 250 per cent a year. Therefore, if the 2002-2003 total dropouts were equal to 1,531 students, this number increased to 7,630 in 2004-2005.

The studies also revealed that students in higher grades are more likely to be absent than students in lower grades.

“The prevalence of child labour can be directly correlated to children not attending school at all, or dropping out of school before they complete their basic education,” UNICEF Representative Laylee Moshiri-Gilani stressed.

According to the findings an average of 6.1 per cent or about 3,500 children aged 7-18 are involved in some kind of work in Armenia and more than 40 per cent of  children interviewed during the study were not attending school at all.

Although the Armenian Labour Code stipulates the minimum age for working to be 14 years, 30 per cent of working children interviewed during the study were below 14.

“Needless to say, child labour robs children of their childhood. But another saddening feature of child labour is that although it often arises because of poverty, it serves only to perpetuate the poverty trap by keeping children away from school,” Ms. Moshiri-Gilani emphasized.

The two UNICEF-supported studies complement each other in stressing that efforts to eliminate child labour go hand in hand with improvements in the quality, relevance and affordability of education.

“The ongoing education reform should guarantee every child access to education and ensure that children who for various reasons fall out of the schooling process can be re-integrated into schools at any stage,” UNICEF Representative emphasized, adding that every country, including Armenia, has a continuing responsibility to ensure that our children and young people are protected, their voices are heard, and their rights are upheld.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer, UNICEF Armenia, Tel: (374-10) 523-546/580-174/543-809, E-mail: esahakyan@unicef.org




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