Ministry addresses use of children as vendors

The Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD) is serious about addressing the issue of young children being used as child vendors.

This was highlighted by the ACEO for Social Development division within MWCSD, Louisa Apelu, during a recent interview with the Samoa Observer.

“There are a series of support programmes by the Ministry that are currently running to cater for children vendors especially in high risk places in town,” she said.

“In terms of the programme package, we are conducting home visits. This is on the social side where we visit the families of child vendors and consult with parents on positive parenting by looking at other ways to support their children like prioritizing education instead of having them vend.

“We also look at behavioral management and how to cope and manage the behaviors from the children – communicating with kids is also significant and for some vendors who are teenagers, they tend to be difficult and so we consult with parents how they communicate with them."

The ACEO of Social Development said part of the programem is to provide direct support to the children and talking to the child vendors that vending is not the option for them and encouraging them to stay in school.

“Education is the key to a successful future and another challenge is trying to instil in the minds of the children that attending school has better outcomes then vending.

“We work with a Non-governmental organization called Wellbeing and Community Solutions (W.C.S.) organization and they provided literacy programmes in the homes of child vendors also.

“The organization deals with case management in terms of child protection and also provide support services in working with vulnerable families and child vendors is identified as one of the vulnerable families and supporting them,” she added.

She also said that there is collaboration between Ministry and the The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC), school principals and parents of the vendors to ensure that kids stay in school.

“Most of the schools we spoke to have never met with the parents of child vendors and so one of the outcomes from the programme are a progress in terms of connecting teachers and parents.

“It is perhaps not on the best circumstances but the main aim is to connect so that if there are problems they can better address it through communication between parents - in previous times, parents have never been aware or pro-active in their children’s education.

“It gave the opportunity to better monitor these children and one of the best outcomes is all the kids are enrolled. There are some cases that are a bit challenging like teenagers between the ages of 15 and above but we tried to put them in alternative school like Laumua o Punaoa, Methodist Technical and Creative Centre.”

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