Portrait of a teacher: Festo Onecan, Headteacher of the Avuru school

published 11 June 2017 updated 23 June 2017

Before the project was launched, some parents viewed children as a source of income.By making them aware, talking openly with them, giving examples of families where children are educated, we are able to make them understand that they have to bring their children back to school.The support of city councillors and religious leaders is valuable, they have also participated in UNATU training programmes and are constantly relaying the message of "no to child labour".

The level of enrollment has increased by 10% this year in my school.78 children who had never attended school have now enrolled, including 46 boys and 32 girls. Some students had not attended school five years and at the age of 12, found themselves with a school age equivalent of 1st year primary, with children aged 6 years.We manage to integrate them through games along with certain remedial learning courses. It is between the 1st and 4th primary school courses where we have the largest increase of children, to the point that they are six to a bench and some have to sit on the floor.

When we identify a child at risk of dropping out of school, we make every effort to ensure that they do not follow this urge by including them in numerous activities, such as football matches.If necessary, we will go so far as to entrust this child with the task of organising this type of event, so that they feel responsible for something and thus have even less desire to drop out.We also organise matches with parents, to interest them in the school.Signs were placed in the schoolyard with all sorts of messages against child labour.

This project to combat child labour, carried out by UNATU, brings great satisfaction to teachers.It gives us more opportunities to interact with local communities, meaning we have made more friendships in the village. Some parents tell us that without this project their children would never have stayed in school.