Tackling the problem of child prostitution by mobilizing schools (Thailand)
- The Sema Life Development project is a project run by the Ministry of Education, with the specific aim of fighting the problem of girls being recruited for prostitution and other hazardous forms of child labour. Girls from poor rural families, ethnic minorities and neighbouring countries who seek Thai citizenship have been lured into prostitution in the hope of improving their existing situation. Poverty, the lack of educational opportunities, broken families and the desire to seek a better standard of living, have all factors in pushing young girls into prostitution. The project aims to tackle the problem of children in prostitution through basic education and awareness-raising.
Aims - To bring an end to the child prostitution by:
- Identifying children who run a high risk of entering prostitution, and removing them from this danger as a matter of priority
- Mobilizing schools to take up different functions and responsibilities in the struggle to prevent child prostitution
- Offering educational and other alternatives for girls at risk of entering prostitution
- Educating and raising the awareness of parents, the community and the children as to the dangers of prostitution, and involving them in the fight against it.
Methods - Schools are mobilized into different activities as follows:
- Primary schools take on the role of campaign centres for the prevention of prostitution. Their function is to identify girls at high risk and organize awareness-raising activities.
- Secondary schools provide children at high-risk with the opportunity to further their education.
- Vocational colleges and non-formal education centres help those who are unable to join the mainstream education system by enrolling them in vocational training and non-formal education.
- Scholarships are awarded to high-risk groups so that they can go to school.
- Teachers provide vocational training opportunities so that they can go to school.
- Teachers disseminate information on prostitution and conduct training sessions for girls on the dangers involved in prostitution, such as the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the lack of career prospects, etc. They also participate in educating and awareness raising of parents and the community.
- The community as a whole co-operates with the police in blocking child prostitution agents.
- Teachers pay a major role in setting up a network of communication, co-ordination and co-operation among the different actors involved in the project, such as community leaders, social workers, government officials, the police, educators, and NGOs to ensure the success of the campaign.
The project has been able to provide the children with alternatives which they previously did not have. The co-operation between the different actors involved in the project has ensured the smooth running of the programme. But the main reason of success has been the teachers input and commitment to the project.