|Effective Corporate Sector Strategies aimed at Alleviating the Plight of Street Children (Development Consultancy Services, 1996)|
by Hamish Richards and
Geraint J. Richards
Prepared with the financial support of the Commission of the European Communities.
Development Consultancy Services Ltd.
Maes-y-Coed Road, Cardiff, Wales.
First Published in 1996
(c) Hamish Richards and Geraint J. Richards
ISBN 0 9521448 4 0
Printed in Wales by Lakeside Publishing, Cardiff.
Copies may be obtained from:
(i) Development Consultancy Services Ltd.
72 Maes-y-Coed Road, Cardiff,
Wales, United Kingdom.
(ii) PMAP HRM Foundation Inc.
670 Lee St., Addition Hills,
City of Mandaluyong,
This Guidebook was prepared with the financial support of the Commission of the European Communities. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not represent any official view of the Commission.
In 1994 the Commission of the European Communities organised and funded a regional seminar to highlight the plight of street children in selected countries of South East Asia. The seminar, held in Pattaya, Thailand, was attended by 77 participants from six countries in the sub-region. The Philippines sent a delegation of seven with Senator Orlando S. Mercado, Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Sub-Committee for Social Services as the leader. One of the members was Atty. Vincente Leogardo Jr., Director-General of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).
The main conclusions reached at the seminar were:
· action to rectify the prevailing plight of street children must be an integral part of the national development policy of each country;
· while the "issue of street children" is the responsibility of national governments, effective solutions require the participation of the community as a whole;
· Government, the corporate sector, NGO's, and other voluntary bodies all have a role to play;
· long term solutions are necessary to prevent children taking to the streets;
· short term solutions, designed to help those already on the streets, must be based on action at the community level with the corporate sector playing an important role.
At the final session, while thanking the EU for arranging the seminar, the participants called upon the Commission and the other institutions of the European Union to take urgent and appropriate action to assist the countries of the region in alleviating the plight of street children in their cities.
In responding to this request, the Commission funded activities in Vietnam in 1995. This involved the implementation of a national survey of street children covering all provinces of the country. The survey was followed by a National Conference which was attended by 72 participants. Based on the outcome of the Conference, a pilot project was developed which requested funkier support from the Commission.
Follow-up activities of the 1994 regional seminar were extended to the Philippines in 1996, when a session of the 1996 Annual Convention of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) was devoted to the plight of street children. The Commission of the European Communities provided technical inputs into this session, the primary objective of which was to create awareness of the street children phenomenon in the Philippines as well as to examine what could be done by the corporate sector to contribute to its alleviation.
As stated above, the 1994 Regional Seminar participants concluded that while the problems that street children face are the responsibility of national governments, effective solutions require the participation of the community as a whole. The government, the corporate sector, NGO's and other voluntary bodies all have a part to play. A significant point to emerge was that while concerned NGO's were aware of the problems that existed, resources were limited, hence a primary requirement was the need to encourage other organisations to facilitate the implementation of appropriate and acceptable strategies through the provision of necessary resources, both financial and physical. As recorded in the Report of the Seminar (pp 25 and 27), Mr. Leogardo expressed a desire to involve the membership of ECOP in activities to alleviate the plight of street children not only in Manila but throughout the Philippines.
The session of the PMAP Convention at which street children issues were viewed as part of an overall aspect of human resource development was attended by over 150 participants, many of whom spoke in general of the need for corporate sector involvement and then went on to emphasise that they were prepared to present the issues to their respective Boards. As a result of this positive reaction on the part of a significant number of PMAP members, the Trustees of the Human Resource Management Foundation of PMAP decided to enlist the support of the Commission of the European Communities and the International Labour Organisation in establishing a unit to undertake a number of distinct activities designed to positively influence the corporate sector to become involved with street children. In this way, it is hoped that the Human Resource Management Foundation (HRMF) of PMAP can become the private sector leader in the street children field. To achieve this end, the unit will undertake a number of distinct activities which, at the outset, will include:
· base-line research;
· devising potential pilot project formats for use by individual companies;
· assisting in the formulation of individual factory based projects;
· involving major corporate institutions in funding educational and non-factory specific vocational training programmes;
· coordinating plant level activities
· networking with involved social welfare NGO's and government departments;
· ensuring that corporate sector activities are developed with a relevant structural approach rather than be seen as a charitable action;
· facilitating a programme monitoring process.
As part of its street children focussed technical input into the 1996 Annual Convention of PMAP, the Commission of the European Communities requested its consultants to prepare a Guidebook or Manual which would outline approaches appropriate to corporate sector involvement. This small volume is the outcome. It is based on the points made at the relevant session of the Convention as well as comments made by industrialists and others in the days that followed. Through the HRMF street children unit, the Guidebook will be distributed to all members of both ECOP and PMAP.
The Guidebook consists of five parts, the first three of which merely act as a relevant introduction to the other two in which a range of possible actions followed by an outline for developing a programme plan of action are presented. The first part consists of a conceptual analysis of the causal factors which result in children being on the streets in the first place. This is followed by a consideration of the prevailing situation in the Philippines. The third section considers the important role which FACILITATING agencies can play in developing and implementing a short term strategy designed to alleviate the plight of children currently on the streets. The fourth section presents a range of activities which could be undertaken by an interested manufacturing or commercial institution. These activities range from simple low cost support to individual children on the one hand, to an involvement in sophisticated but relevant vocational/skills training programmes on the other. The final part presents a guide for developing an appropriate plan of action.
As the concept of street children cannot be identified by precise criteria and children on the streets fall into various categories, a specific definition is hard to come by. However, a recent attempt at a definition reads, "A street child or street youth is any minor for whom the street has become his or her habitual abode, and who is without adequate protection." Working from this definition, street children fall into three distinct categories namely:
· Children working on the street, but with regular family contact;
· Children living and working on the street;
· Completely abandoned and neglected children.
Most children, especially those with no family contact will do any kind of job in order to earn enough money to buy food. Such tasks include selling newspapers, food, cigarettes and flowers, shining shoes, watching cars, collecting garbage, loading vehicles and running messages. Those unfortunate enough not to find a job may resort to begging, petty theft, drug-running and prostitution. Whatever they do and wherever they are it cannot be disputed that they are at high risk and vulnerable on the street, whether or not they continue to have loose family ties.
In the Philippines about 70 percent of street children are classified as "children on the street", that is, children who work on the street and return home each evening. These children contribute to the family income and are therefore the victims of poverty. Victims, to the extent that, as the prime source of informal sector child labour, they are being deprived of educational opportunities.
About 25 percent are regarded as "children of the street" in that they work and live on the streets and have little or no contact with their families. These are generally the victims of family abuse but some may be suffering from the break-up of marital unions.
The remaining 5 percent are abandoned children who are mainly the product of the break-up of family relationships and therefore spend all their time on the street.
UNICEF estimates that by the year 2000 there will be 233 million children between the ages of 5-19 years in urban areas in developing countries. By no means are all urban children potential street children. The majority are not. However, of the 233 million urban children between 30-40 per cent will be extremely poor. This figure of between 70 and 90 million earl be a rough indication of the potential number of street children and if only half of the extremely poor urban children take to the streets, the minimum number will be between 35 to 45 million. If nothing is done to tackle the prevailing situation immediately then in 50 years time we will not be talking about figures in millions but in tens of millions by which time it may well be too late to do anything.
What little money street children earn gives them a certain independence and an associated sense of pride. In many cases, however, the money they earn is often taken away from them by their parents, peer groups or gang leaders. Any income they are able to retain is primarily spent on food and clothes. However, some will spend their hard earned income on cigarettes, alcohol or drugs in an attempt to emulate their parents or peers. Many become addicted to solvents. This is so for two reasons. The first and more obvious is that solvents allow the child a temporary escape from his or her problem. Not so obvious is the fact, well known streets, that solvents possess appetite depressing properties, hence the pangs of hunger are taken away.
Street children tend to be undernourished as a result of an insufficient intake of calories, proteins, calcium and vitamins. Widespread malnutrition is therefore common and this leads to common diseases which may spread rapidly. Such diseases include anaemia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, dermatitis, pneumoconiosis and others. A further problem is that many of the jobs that street children do can prove harmful to their physical and mental development. Their growing bodies may suffer from the effects of fatigue, over-exertion, lack of hygiene and working in adverse conditions. Such factors can lead to a change in body chemistry which affects the central nervous system which in turn slows down the child's mental and physical development.
However, having said this, many children are bright and sharp despite the conditions they live and work in and despite little or no education. This is reflected in their good sense to leave home when they are physically or sexually abused; by their adaptation to life on the streets and the development of their survival instincts as well as the sometimes innovative ways they find to earn money to buy themselves the basic essentials for life, especially food.
Unfortunately not all the children find jobs or have the intuition and innovation to start any kind of income-generating project. Children in this situation have no alternative but to resort to begging. If they cannot get sufficient money from begging then they might turn to stealing. Ultimately they may have to engage in drug-running or even prostitution. Some children see these activities solely as a means of survival and hence do not realise the danger they might be getting themselves into. It is at this point that they become increasingly vulnerable to physical, sexual and economic exploitation.
Although numbers and projections do not describe the sometimes horrific conditions that street children have to endure, the data showing numbers and rates of growth of numbers emphasise the point that action is required now if a frightening future scenario is to be avoided.
When attempting to find a solution to a specific problem it is often necessary to go back to the root source and the basic cause of that problem. This is the purpose of the present section of the Guidebook. The diagram presented as Annex I illustrates how various social problems unfold into a vicious circle which invariably leads to a decrease in the quality of life and an increase in poverty, hardship and misery, and thus enables us not only to look at the problem in its entirety but also to attempt to define the basic root causes of the problem.
In many developing countries, family size tends to be large for a number of different reasons. In some, traditional concepts dictate that the more children a man has then the more masculine/macho he is. Other cultures believe that the more children one has indicates the love of God, since children are a blessing from God.
In most countries families are large based on the experience of succeeding generations. In earlier years it was necessary for couples to have many children as it was virtually certain that several would not survive through infancy or childhood. Therefore the more children one had the greater chance that a number of children would survive to help out with the daily chores, supplementing the family income and of most importance, to look after the parents in their old age. However, these traditional concepts are now outdated. The advances in medicine, especially immunisation technology and public health investment in terms of water supply and sanitation facilities have brought about a dramatic fall in mortality rates hence more children now survive through childhood. However, a desire for fewer births has not yet developed in response to these positive changes. Many poor people appear to be slow to appreciate that the more hands you have to help also implies that there are more bodies to be clothed, more feet to put shoes on, and more mouths to feed. These constraints inevitably lead to many, if not a majority of couples having more children than they can adequately provide for.
In rural areas the main source of income is agriculture. However, low agricultural incomes, low productivity, and rising under-employment have resulted in much rural poverty. Rural poverty, under- and unemployment is not entirely the result of increasing population pressures and higher worker: land ratios. Other contributory factors include the low rate of investment in the agricultural sector, inequalities in the distribution of land; fragmentation of land ownership; and the rapid progression from labour-intensive methods of agriculture to capital intensive methods in the quest for higher profit margins. However, regardless of the major specific cause in any rural community, as such factors have become more pronounced, many people have been forced to leave rural areas in search of better employment opportunities in the urban areas. This may well be regarded as the starting-off point in the context of a street children problem.
Many people in rural areas believe the fallacy that in all cities the "streets are paved with gold". People are attracted to the cities in search for better employment prospects, better entertainment opportunities and the possibility of improving their standard of living. However, for the majority of migrants there are no jobs, no homes, and no money. Many are forced to endure a lower standard of living than they left back in the rural areas. However, most disillusioned migrants will not return to their original homes but will remain in the urban areas for the rest of their lives. Some may not return because they sold up everything and have nowhere to return to. Some may not have enough money to make the return trip. For many the reason may simply be their pride since they might be regarded as failures if they returned to their village.
High rural to urban migration, coupled with an increase in population as a result of high fertility, leads to an increase in the demand for jobs in urban areas. This demand for jobs invariably outstrips the number of existing job opportunities as new employment opportunities are not being created at an appropriate pace, especially for those with a limited educational background and ability. Such a situation inevitably results in a lack of income earning opportunities which means that many families have to live on or below the poverty line.
People who migrate to the cities with lime real prospect of employment will find it virtually impossible to obtain decent accommodation even comparable with that left behind in their village. They are therefore forced to live in slums and shanty towns which are permanently depressed communities where housing standards are abysmal. Homes are constructed out of scrap materials and often even out of old cardboard boxes. There are no adequate water or electricity supplies; and poor sanitation and sewerage systems contribute to low levels of personal hygiene. Invariably there is a lack of proper primary health care and often malnutrition is widespread. Under such circumstances disease is rife and spreads rapidly. In addition there is a lack of primary education facilities hence the education of young children is generally neglected. All these factors contribute to a miserable standard of living and over time further reductions in the quality of life may be observed as family size grows and income opportunities stagnate. This however, is not the bottom line. The situation is aggravated by the fact that shanty towns often spring up on unoccupied land in close proximity to the urban metropolis, hence it is not uncommon to find slum areas within metres of high rise office blocks and five star hotels. Such "relative" deprivation further exaggerates a concept of underprivilege which can in itself be a causal factor in developing a "street children situation".
In those circumstances where social indiscipline develops, the response of government is to crack down on violence, crime and immoral behavior in a negative manner. The alternative, of seeking to find the root cause of such social attitudes and then working to alleviate the problems is generally not even contemplated. The existence of such negative rather than positive attitudes on the part of government may well be yet another specific causal factor of the "street children syndrome".
When a family migrates from a rural area they are immediately faced with a new and unknown environment. Many find it very difficult to obtain any kind of employment as there are fewer job opportunities for unskilled, poorly educated people in the cities than in the rural areas. With lime or no money, decent accommodation cannot be found, hence immigrants are forced to live in slums and shanty towns. In these depressed areas there is only extremely poor quality housing, overcrowded and cramped living conditions, little ventilation, non-existent sanitary facilities, a lack of hygiene, poor access to poor services and lime infrastructure.
The lack of job prospects inevitably leads to insecurity and instability which is centered on the home while overcrowding and poor living conditions add to the psychological tension. Parents who cannot afford to adequately feed or clothe their families not only worry but start to lose their self-respect. Under such enormous social and economic pressures the easy way out is to resort to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape from the overbearing problems. The more tragic path that is sometimes taken is to stumble into the world of commercial sex or what has more aptly been termed "survival sex". Women, and even some men have often been forced into prostitution merely as a way of earning enough money to feed their families. Once again the ultimate result may include the spread of disease, decline in health, but inevitably a further loss of self-respect.
Family relationships under such conditions can best be described as poor and it is often the case that children do not receive as much affection and attention as they need or deserve. A distinct lack of supervision of the children may develop and consequently many will lead a semi-independent life from an early age. Given the adverse conditions in the home, many children may decide to go out and find a job while others are sent out by their parents to earn money in order to supplement the family income.
In other cases, the enormous pressures that build up in the home may lead to family fragmentation which in turn inevitably leads to further neglect of the children. The remaining parent now has to find time to look for employment, to work, and to carry out the household duties. If this parent remarries there are often additional problems associated with step-parents not giving as much love and attention as the natural parent gave. The situation is further complicated if the child rejects the step-parent because they see him or her trying to take the place of the natural parent.
In addition to the neglect and almost inevitable friction that may build up in the home, it is not uncommon to find that under these tense and stressful conditions many parents and step-parents begin to take their frustration out on their children and may start to physically abuse them. It is not entirely uncommon for a step-parent, and even sometimes a natural parent, in these circumstances to begin to sexually assault their own child. At this point a child with a strong will may decide that there is no other option than to leave home and start an independent life on the streets.
It can therefore be argued that the problems which culminate in children living and working on the streets stem from the central issue that people, especially migrants, cannot find any decent employment in urban areas and end up living in depressed communities. The longer a person remains under- or unemployed then the greater the pressures they have to cope with. Tension and pressure within the home can ultimately lead to either parents sending their children out to work on the streets, children running away from home to escape all kinds of abuse, or parents just simply abandoning their children.
The problems that generate an expansion in the number of children on the street are basically economic and social. The excess supply of labour in rural areas leads to migration but there is a woeful lack of opportunities in the receiving areas added to which is an ever growing deficiency in terms of social services. If only more effective community development strategies were to be devised, family pressures would be better contained with a consequent reduction in the causal factors behind the problems associated with street children.
Such a complex web of issues requires solutions both short and long-term that address all the various aspects involved. The problem of children currently living on the streets requires a short-term solution geared towards alleviating the pressures the children are facing at the present time whilst also equipping them with appropriate skills which will help them obtain employment when they are older. On the other hand, longer-term approaches are necessary to overcome the root causes of the problem. Unless longer-term solutions are identified and implemented the problem will not even be controlled let alone eliminated in the future.
Although a variety of complex issues come together to create the problem, any steps towards finding a solution must of necessity begin by helping the countless number of children living on the streets at the present time. Clearly they need support. This is not likely to come from their immediate family but institutions and facilities could be developed at community level through government, civic, and voluntary intervention.
What we have seen in the preceding paragraphs is that the street children phenomena is just one aspect of a virtual breakdown in socio-economic development which inevitably has an adverse effect on family relationships. This in turn naturally leads to children taking to the streets either to augment family income or to escape from persecution.
Clearly, a street children problem is an urban one but this does not mean that a long term strategy has to be based in an urban environment. In fact, any long term strategy has to set out to tackle the problem before it even begins. The basic cause of the problem is poverty which may itself be attributed to a number of seemingly independent causal factors. These may include the lack of investment resources; a deficient social structure which makes inadequate provision for public health improvements which in turn perpetuates sickness and relatively low productivity; inappropriate economic development policies which create unemployment and intensifies under-employment; but above all, there is the problem of excessive population growth rates, especially in rural areas which in turn generate rural to urban migration flows.
A long term strategy designed to tackle these problems is not concerned with street children at all. What is required is a programme that will attack the incidence of poverty through an integrated socio-economic development programme created to reduce internal migration; increase employment opportunities; and check the rapid rate of population growth. Such positive changes, especially if brought about at more or less the same time will improve family well-being. Having achieved an improvement in family welfare one can then expect a weakening of the 'push factor' which drives children away from home because of the prevailing incidence of child abuse or not even abuse but merely the existence of an abysmal quality of home life. If this is so, the creation of a street children problem is reduced as a result of the implementation of a positive socio-economic development programme.
The long term strategy therefore calls for an attack on poverty in rural as well as urban areas, an appropriate socio-economic development policy, and a positive population programme which not only encourages but also facilitates the implementation of an acceptable family planning programme - "acceptable" that is, in terms of the attitude of the target audience.
Clearly the implementation of an appropriate socio-economic development policy is the responsibility of government. Such policies have to be devised at national level irrespective of the incidence and various local intensities of street children. To that extent, it may be justifiable to argue that this is not a long term strategy in the context of the problems of street children. True. However, it cannot be denied that if such a policy, successfully implemented, will reduce the ultimate incidence of street children, it is not inappropriate to consider it in the context of this Guidebook. In other words, the more successful the current implementation of an appropriate national socio-economic development policy is, the greater the attack on poverty will be; consequently better family welfare conditions will prevail (especially if the socio-economic policy has an appropriate population education/services component), and hence the end result will be fewer children on the streets a decade from now.
THE VICIOUS CIRCLE
Many figures have recently been quoted to indicate the number of street children in the Philippines in the mid 'nineties. They range from ten thousand to 1.5 million. To some extent the wide variation may be attributed to differences in definition criteria being used, especially age limits and family ties, but visual evidence would suggest that, even under the most rigid definition, the figure of ten thousand is a gross underestimate for Metro Manila let alone the Republic as a whole.
In its September 14 1996 Editorial, the newspaper Metro Today stated quite categorically that "The Philippines now has 223,600 street children, comprising three percent of the country's total child population." This appeared under the headline: 'Number of Street Kids Increasing...', and went on to quote Senator Ernesto Herrera who said that, "Any talk of economic growth and social progress will be empty if we can't stop the increase in our street children population and put them where they should be - in shelter and schools." The statement by Senator Herrera followed on the heels of the release of official government statistics which reported that in the country as a whole, over 1.5 million children of primary school age, that is between 7 and 12 years of age, were not attending school.
In citing these statistics, House Minority Leader Rep. Ronaldo Zamora pointed out that 12,000 out of the 43,000 barangays nationwide have no elementary schools and only 21,600 of the existing elementary schools in the country are able to provide the full six years of primary education. Rep. Zamora stated that the lack of classrooms and teachers was the largest cause of children not going to school. However, another significant factor is that many parents cannot afford to send their children to school. Although public school education is free, there are both real and opportunity costs involved. Parents cannot provide such relatively low cost requirements as school uniforms and in numerous cases, transport costs. In addition, if children are away for most of the day, some snack has to be provided, while alternatively, if the child is at home or on the street that small cost is not needed. On the other hand, if the child is not at school, he or she could be carrying out some menial task which will generate a contribution to the family income, however meagre it may be.
As stated in the preceding chapter, it is estimated that about 70% of street children do not live on the streets but return to their family home each evening. These children attempt to alleviate poverty by making a small contribution to the family income through working in the urban informal sector but they are also the victims of poverty because they are being deprived of educational opportunities. Rather than doing menial tasks for a mere pittance, these children should be in school in order to have better employment prospects in the future. As Senator Herrera pointed out, over three-quarters of these children try to earn some money legally. They are scavengers (19%); vendors selling such items as cigarettes, plastic bags, newspapers, food, flowers, etc. (24%); general helpers (24%); car washers and car watchers (11%); shoe shiners (6%). However, almost ten percent are engaged in illegal pursuits with over 5 percent having admitted to being involved in prostitution, while 4 percent were 'full time pickpockets'. A further 13% were to be found in that 'greyest of areas' being full time beggars. Senator Herrera went on to say that an "are constantly exposed to rain, heat and dust; traffic accidents, street violence and police harassment." Some children sleep all day so that they can stay awake at night in order to fend off the police and other potential threats to their safety.
Street life is tough for both groups, those living on the street and those simply working on the street. Survival often means drifting into drug abuse or taking up illegal activities such as petty theft and prostitution. Unless something is done, the petty thieves of today will become the hardened criminals of tomorrow. In the words of Fr. John Carroll S.J., "...do we see in child-beggars and the groups of children huddled together to sniff glue or gamble, the solid citizens of the future, or a new generation of bank robbers and kidnappers?" The value system on the streets is based on survival rather than morality, hence street children spend most of their childhood in an environment that leads to the development of anti-social attitudes and behaviour. Consequently, it is inevitable that without appropriate and acceptable help, the chances are slim that those on the streets today will become responsible citizens as they mature.
Many children take drugs or sniff glue not just to escape from reality but also to fend off the pangs of hunger. They do not eat at regular times but rather when they are hungry provided they can obtain food. They join gangs for both friendship and protection. Younger children are taught the ways of life by those who are already street wise. The characters of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger as portrayed by Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century can be seen today on the street comers of Malate, Pasay and Quezon City. However there is an added dimension. The lure of the 'quick buck' leads many of today's street children to engage in prostitution, and the emergence of the foreign paedophile as a result of the growth in tourism in South East Asian countries exploits the situation causing adverse long term repercussions on the victim.
Based on the Philippine total of 223,600 street children, the figure published by Metro Today in September 1996, almost 50% or 107,000 were shown to be in Metro Manila. The metropolitan area with the largest number of street children was Quezon City with 22,500; followed by Manila - 21,585; Caloocan City 10,273; Makati - 6,100; and Pasay City - 4,950.
Outside the metropolis, the largest concentrations were in Davao City -11,474 and Cebu City - 8,240. Over 4,000 street children were reported in the four cities of Zamboanga, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo, and between 3,000-4,000 in the cities of General Santos, Angeles, and Iligan. In fact, Metro Manila plus ten other cities account for almost three quarters of the street children population identified in the country.
In 1990 just under 50 percent of the population of the Philippines, which at that time was about 61 million, were urban dwellers. It is estimated that by the year 2000, that is, in just four years from now, almost 70 percent of the much larger population of about 75 million will be living in urban areas. This implies an increase of over 22 million urban dwellers in the ten year period.
In 1994 the urban poor made up 17 percent of the total population and over 40 percent of the urban population. As urban poverty adversely affects family relationships and leads to the break-up of family life it is not surprising to find that the estimated number of street children in the Philippines is greater than in any other country in South Fast Asia.
Many of these children have left home because of physical abuse which, unfortunately, seems to be more prevalent in the Philippines than in neighbouring countries. The only 'bright spot', if there is a 'bright spot', in the Philippine street children scenario is that parental sexual abuse is less common than in some other countries of the region.
The following table indicates the significant differences between children who work on the street and children who live on the street. Those children classified as 'on their way to becoming street children' are those presently working on the street but living in adverse home conditions. In other words, they are currently contributing to family income through working in the urban informal sector, but are likely to suffer abuse, either physical, verbal or both.
Table 1: Differences Between Street Children Living at Home and On the Street
Street-based working children (still living with their families)
Children on their way to becoming street children (still in families)
Street children on their own (not living with a family)
*Predominantly 8-9 to 14 years old with concentration in 10-12 age group
*Predominantly 8-9 to 14 years old with concentration in 10-12 age group
*Slightly older i e predominantly 13-15 years old
*Predominantly from migrant families but not necessarily recent migrants (mostly over four years)
From households of recent migrants often evicted
*Come from poor, already stressed, but still reasonably supportive families, but with limited extended family support
*Family discord more evident
*Household shows greater signs of disaggregation and loss of
cooperation, thus providing a less supportive, more often conflictual
*Most have gone to school but generally behind grade level
*May be out of school already or in the process of dropping out
*School attendance varies.
*A higher proportion from two-parent households, both parents usually working
*Majority living with two-parent families (parents or other
*From slightly larger percent of female-supported households; majority nave parents alive
*Contribute regularly to family and their earnings represent an average 113 to 114 of household income
*May resent portion of earnings given to family
*Only a minority contribute to the income of their households of origin and usually sporadically
*Generally vulnerable to accidents and to exploitation by ill-tempered individuals, either through heavy manual or long hours of work
*Exposed to some drugs, illegal activities, glue or solvent spitting and street gangs
*More heavily exposed to and more likely to be abusing drugs, alcohol and solvents or to be involved in early unprotected sexual activity and to experience violence
Source: Saving Lives, R. Esquillo-lgnacio, PULSO, Manila, 1996.
The phenomenon of street children began to appear in the Philippines in the mid-'seventies and grew to alarming proportions in the 'eighties when it caused nationwide concern.
The Philippine Constitution ratified in 1987 stresses the State's commitment to defend the rights of children within the framework of government and private sector action. With the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the signing of the World Declaration on Children, the Government launched the Philippine Plan of Action for Children (PPAC) in 1990. Under the PPAC the President instructed specific government agencies to support and implement child survival, protection and development programmes and activities. This resulted in the relevant government agencies working with volunteer NGO's through networks dedicated to promoting and upholding the rights of every child. These local and regional networks operate through identifiable committees each of which works towards seven areas of concern which are:
· advocacy and social mobilisation;
· programme development and direct intervention;
· human resource development;
· educational assistance;
· a street education programme;
· income generating projects;
· institutionalisation of networks.
Such activities are based in Centres where deprived children are given the opportunity to eat, relax and undergo alternative education. Some agencies also provide residential care while others are street based and concentrate on the provision of street education.
The 1991 Local Government Code decentralized certain responsibilities and functions to local government including that for social services for street children. However, the National Department of Social Welfare and Development retained a leadership role. The current national project for street children started in 1986 in 8 cities and at the present time covers more than 30 municipalities. From an initial 10,000 street children being provided with services of one kind or another, the number now being served has grown to over 100,000. The main priority goals of the national project are:
· to provide access to basic services;
· to devise methods that will facilitate the reunion of children with their families;
· to provide educational opportunities;
· to provide relevant vocational and technical training facilities;
· to devise more effective approaches;
· to strengthen the networking facilities involving NGO's and local communities.
At the 1994 Regional Seminar on the Plight of Street Children, Senator Orlando Mercado, the leader of the Philippines delegation pointed out that the city is the key point in the implementation of the programme and every participating city has a task-force comprising government and voluntary agencies. A national Project Committee Technical Team based at the Department of Social Welfare and Development coordinates the efforts of the city committees and provides technical assistance inputs. Of the eight implementation problems identified by Senator Mercado, all but one can be summed up in the single word "FUNDS". During the course of the Regional Seminar, the Philippines delegation stated that they, as a group, felt that if the programme was to achieve a significant step forward, there was a need to develop an action plan that would increase social responsibility towards children especially at the community level which would involve the corporate sector.
The 1994 Regional Seminar organised by the Commission of the European Communities, brought together representatives from six countries. Each national delegation consisted of a politician, government officials, representatives of NGO's (both child related and others) and academics.
Three significant points emerged from the Seminar. The first was the need to look at the plight of street children not from a national, regional or city aspect but from the point of view of individual communities, in the Philippines context, the barangay.
The second point was that two distinct approaches have to be taken. Long term preventive action is required to counteract the desire of the children to abandon their homes in the first place. This involves the development of an appropriate national socio-economic strategy which will tackle the basic causes of poverty and this task is clearly the responsibility of government. The second approach requires the development and implementation of appropriate strategies that will assist those children already on the streets. In general, such short term programmes require relatively low cost inputs from community based non-governmental organisations.
The third point to emerge was that in each country, CONCERNED specialist voluntary institutions are making effective networking arrangements to tackle the situation. However, impact can be considerably enhanced if non-specialist institutions can be encouraged to FACILITATE the implementation of programmes through the provision of financial and other resources. This is a role that can clearly be provided by the corporate sector in the Philippines.
The earlier sections of this guidebook present an analysis of prevailing conditions in the Philippines and draws attention to the different aspects that are worthy of attention. The incidence of child abuse - be it physical or just verbal forces children on to the streets because of unacceptable and intolerable conditions at home. This contrasts with the smaller group of children who are actually abandoned by their parents. It may be argued that those children who decide to leave home have a positive outlook on life; they are not prepared to tolerate unacceptable conditions of hardship, exploitation and abuse, be it physical or mental: they are looking for a better future, but as is so often true in general, while the grass on the other side of the mountain is always anticipated to be greener, it hardly ever is and life on the streets is hard. Work is hard; income is virtually non-existent; escape from misery may only be found in drugs and solvent sniffing. On the other hand, petty crime has its attractions prostitution may ultimately appear to be a way out especially where the growth in tourism has exploded the situation in recent decades. What is clear is that exploitation and hardship is the potential long term scenario for each exploited child be they living at home or on the street.
The purpose of this chapter is to consider possible solutions which may involve either long term or short term strategies. But these are not alternatives. Long term strategies must be considered if a permanent solution is to be found. However, where the problem exists, something must be done for those who are already in this predicament. Consequently long and short term strategies must be applied simultaneously although their conceptualization, formulation and implementation rests within diverse institutional systems. In fact this will inevitably be the case where non-governmental organisations. (NGO's) are involved in the attack on prevailing problems whereas the development and implementation of the various strands of a long term strategy must be seen as a government responsibility.
While long term strategies must be designed to prevent a situation getting worse, a short term strategy has to have the children who are already on the streets as the main focus. Kids have to be helped regardless of where they are to be found. Children who are homeless; who are hungry and malnourished; who do not go to school; who engage in petty crime; who are on drugs or solvents; who are exploited by their peers or elders; who are tempted, or more often forced, into prostitution; who are battered; who are unhappy; who see no future; these are the children whose situation must be improved.
Fortunately the situation in most cities in the Philippines is a long way from that prevailing in Latin America and even in some cities of Africa. Although the problems are somewhat less acute, it does not mean that they can be ignored. If they are ignored at the present time, they will not go away, but rather, they will get worse. And if they do get worse, the ultimate solutions will then be that much harder, not to mention more costly, to introduce. Consequently, the time is opportune to seek short term solutions.
At this point two significant factors must be appreciated. First, it is important to emphasise that while a street children problem may be seen in the context of the situation in a particular city, it is fundamentally a problem confined to each particular community and varies from community to community. Hence, it is only as a community phenomenon that it can be successfully tackled.
Second, it should never be forgotten that street children are human beings and must be approached as such. They have minds of their own; most have clear minds, if they did not have such an independent streak they may well have not left home in the first place. They can think for themselves. Meanwhile, although the majority have attained only a relatively low educational level, they are nevertheless both intelligent and ambitious; they know what they want and they are not going to be pressurised into changing their ideas and perhaps even changing their ways. However, in June 1996 a one-day survey carried out in Metro Manila by the Department of Social Welfare and Development revealed that 64 percent of street children interviewed expressed a desire to leave the streets with many indicating that they wished to return to school. It may be impossible to bully them into accepting a new idea, even if it is clearly for their own good, but they may well be persuaded into accepting that very same idea.
With these two criteria in mind, the development of short term strategies may be considered. A number of important points emerge. These are:
· projects which primarily involve the development and establishment of various types of centre or activity are called for, rather than the development of an overall national programme;
· such projects will be confined to a specific community, hence they will be relatively small in scale;
· there is a clear advantage in establishing problem specific projects; for example, one centre may specialise in nutritional problems while another, perhaps very close by, will emphasise drug-related issues, the provision of general education or general counselling matters. This clearly calls for coordination at both the planning and implementation stages;
· the children, apart from very young abandoned ones, must be considered at the planning stage. Their basic characteristics in terms of background, problems and attitudes must be appreciated and allowed for. It is no good setting up a Home or Drop-in Centre or Recreation Centre if no-one will attend, hence the need of talking to the "potential clients" at the outset;
· the staff requited to work on projects must be able to relate to the children. This implies proper recruitment, selection and training.
It follows that relatively small projects in small identifiable communities dealing with specific problems, may be developed and implemented by one particular group, be they an established NGO or one that has come together on an ad hoc basis to undertake a singular task. Any group, organisation or institution that has an interest in community development may be persuaded to see a street children related activity as something that appeals to their charitable nature and worthy of precise action in the context of community assistance. What is required is for a particular activity to be undertaken to meet a unique need and in the case of most Philippine companies, such a unique need can be found within metres of their factory compound and its gates.
While specialist groups such as Caritas Manila, CHILDHOPE and others may be able to identify community requirements, the basic need is for funds. The specialist groups can raise funds. They can cajole their members, develop and then submit projects to national and international funding agencies and so on but fundraising activities, over time, tend to become not only frustrating but also bureaucratic. A more positive approach may be to have the specialist groups identify potential community based projects and then encourage non-specialist groups such as corporate institutions to implement the project. Such an approach will work provided those being brought in to finance and operate such a programme are not expected to have to put in too much in the way of financial resources and administrative time. This can be achieved assuming the activity envisaged is not on too grand a scale and is located within the community where the implementing group is based. Hence the development of a small Drop-in Centre close to a factory complex may appeal to an industrialist or a trade union; a rotary or lions club may, without too much effort, be persuaded to establish a home for street kids or a drug-related programme close to the place where they hold their regular meetings. In this way non-specialist groups can become active in alleviating street children problems provided they are first set in the right direction by a specialist group. However, in order to maximise the impact of such a development strategy, it is important that the non-specialist group appreciates that it is the responsible institution in terms of project implementation and that nobody is under the impression that the non-specialist group is merely acting as a funding arm for the specialist group. The role of the specialist group in this context is best confined to the initial identification of the project and continuing technical guidance but all other aspects of project implementation should be the responsibility of the non-specialist group.
The implementation of a project will generally require three distinct inputs. These may be summarised as:
· 1. the site;
· 2. the expendables;
· 3. the staff.
Each of these will require financial inputs, not necessarily large but nevertheless costs that have to be met.
The site will not only involve a purchase price or a fixed rent but will also require furnishing and maintenance. These are the major costs that have to be faced at the commencement of the project. Such costs can either be covered completely by the non-specialist institution or may be shared with the local community government or even the national government. On the other hand, the site for a project may be provided as a starting-up gift from an individual well-wisher from within or outside the non-specialist organisation This may well be something which the specialist group can organise at the initial planning stage of the project.
The term "expendables" covers recurring financial costs of a relatively modest amount such as food and medicines. These costs can be covered on a recurring basis by the local non-specialist institution.
Even though it is envisaged that most projects will be small in nature, probably the largest single input into the project will be staff costs. If project staff are to have a good rapport with the street children they are attempting to help, it will clearly be an advantage if they themselves are relatively young, and if possible, from a somewhat similar strata of society. One is not looking for highly qualified educators, psychiatrists or social workers but rather young people interested in helping those less fortunate than themselves. Consequently, emoluments are likely to be relatively low, but they will be recurring over time.
However, having said this, it must be appreciated that professional inputs will be required for specific programmes such as health care. Where this is the case it might be appropriate to seek the assistance of the company professionals on a volunteer basis.
It is anticipated that most community based centres would concentrate on short term help in the context of nutrition, health, education (including spiritual and moral development), countering drug abuse and so on. However, other specialist short term programmes would also have a longer term perspective which would progress from basic education to skills development in the context of vocational and technical training with due regard to the analysis of future labour market needs. Here government inputs could well be of assistance, but it should not be forgotten that persuasion rather than coercion will be the appropriate mode of introduction.
In this section an attempt has been made to indicate, in general terms, that there is a role for constituents of the private corporate sector in the alleviation of street children problems. In the following section possible activities which companies might consider developing are outlined.
The plant level programmes being advocated in this Guidebook are designed to meet the needs of children living on the streets and not those working on the streets while living at home. However, as indicated in the previous sections, there are those children working in the informal sector who can be classified as belonging to an in-between group - who because of deteriorating conditions within the family home could become bona fide street children within a very short time. In this situation, it can be argued, such children are the ones who require priority attention if the objective of reintegration is to be most effectively achieved. If a 'new' street child can be counselled before coming under the influence of an already 'street-wise' new friend then the task of reintegration should be relatively simple. On the other hand, the lack of educational opportunities, along with the incidence of malnutrition, the lure of drugs and glue as well as the attraction of prostitution as a potential source of income are problems that beset all children of the streets regardless of the length of time he or she may have endured such deprivation.
Despite the emphasis of the preceding paragraph, it is important to bear in mind that the old adage "prevention is better than cure" is relevant when considering the problems of street children. Actions designed to prevent children taking to the streets should therefore be considered as part of an all embracing appropriate strategy which involves family welfare education directed to 'delinquent parents' rather than 'wayward children'.
Potential programmes may take any of a variety of forms. For convenience these may be considered within four broad categories which, however, are not mutually exclusive. These are:
· Centre Based
· Street Based
· Factory/Community Based
· Training Based
Regardless of the category, the real and financial input can vary considerably. It can range from tens of thousands of $US a year to P 100 per month - a figure which the Southville Seed Foundation of Paranaque request to sponsor the continuing primary education of a poor urban child.
It is however, important to bear in mind that one is not talking about increasing the flow of charitable giving. 'Handouts' are not called for. What is being advocated is the development and implementation of a systematic structured approach which will be part of a coordinated activity designed to alleviate what is, at the present time, a growing social (and economic) problem within the urban communities of the Philippines.
Centre Based Programmes
There are many Centres scattered throughout Metro Manila run by a variety of concerned NGO's. The average Centre generally provides residential accommodation for around 30 children. If interested, an industrial/commercial undertaking could either undertake to become involved by providing financial support to cover one or more clearly identifiable costs in one of these on-going institutions or look closely at such an existing NGO institution and, on the basis of these observations, develop a specific company Centre along somewhat similar lines. The latter approach is the one being recommended as it is likely to have much more potential to become a permanent activity than a programme limited to the provision of financial support to an on-going institution. At the same time, the fact that there is a clearly identifiable company-provided street children centre can be used to stimulate interest and potential inputs (both physical and financial) on the part of the general work force.
The involvement of the work force, preferably through the leadership of the union at plant level, should be a clear objective of any corporate sector programme.
At the present time, three types of shelter facilities may be identified. These are:
1. Drop-in Centres;
2. Temporary Centres;
3. Residential Homes.
Each type of Centre offers somewhat similar facilities to street children, but all are safe-havens where children can avoid the dangers of the streets, particularly at night. Basically they all offer shelter, food, informal education, and counselling. Within each type, some Centres are also able to provide recreational facilities such as television and games. It is also possible for Centre staff to assist with the coordination of income-generating activities, but this type of service is more common in Vietnam where security regulations are tighter than those prevailing in the Philippines and there is, in consequence, a greater need to comply with the law. Where such facilities are made available, it is soon found that the children adopt a more 'professional' approach to their earning activities which works to the benefit of all in terms of income generation. However, perhaps of greater significance is that such 'professionalism' is an important ingredient in the reintegration process which is a major objective of all programmes designed to alleviate the plight of street children.
As the name implies, children need not reside in Drop-in Centres. They may just drop in at times of maximum stress; when they wish to avoid a particular problem; or when they just require to talk to someone. However, most drop-in centres usually have facilities which enable them to take in children for two to three months, after which time, if the children have not been reunited with their families, they are either referred or transferred to other residential facilities. However, it is often the case that children stay somewhat longer because they cannot be reunited with their families or other arrangements have yet to be found for them. In the majority of cases, children are reluctant to leave. Such a situation emphasises the fact that coercion is absent, rules and regulations are at a minimum, but conversely, understanding, tolerance and trust abound. These are the key elements in the running of a successful Centre and are attributes that must be emphasised when appointing staff to run a Centre.
Temporary Shelters differ from drop-in centres only to the extent that they are prepared to take in children for a longer period. They provide shelter for between six months to a year and generally on a less casual basis. The 'drop-in' concept which implies instant access at times of greatest pressure on the street child is absent here. To that extent, the drop-in centre could be said to provide a more important service than temporary shelters.
The third category of accommodation comprises Residential Homes. These differ from drop-in centres and temporary shelters in two respects. First, they provide care for children for much longer periods, usually from six months up to four years, but in some cases children stay indefinitely until they reach the upper age limit of 18 years. Second, the homes put greater emphasis on returning the children to the community, either through facilitating reconciliation with the family or by preparing the older children for independent living within the community. This implies a greater attention being given to improving income generating activities.
There are four major cost items involved in establishing the basic elements of any one of the different types of Centre discussed in the preceding paragraphs. One is an initial cost while the other three are recurring.
The non-recurring cost consists of three parts: first, that necessary to obtain premises be it a purchase price or rent for a minimum number of years, second, that involved in bringing the fabric up to standard; and third, furnishing the centre. There are three elements in the latter component namely beds and bedding; the provision of locker facilities for children; and furnishing the living area, including the provision of adequate facilities for study. To set up a centre capable of looking after about 30 children would probably require an initial input of about $US 6,000.
A company deciding to set up a centre could probably utilise some of its regular labour force to improve the fabric. This would then involve only a limited direct financial input. On the other hand, the nature of the recurrent costs is such that there is little scope for financial savings. These costs consist of three clearly identifiable major inputs namely:
1. Rent (if the premises have not been purchased outright);
Again with about 30 children in mind, a reasonable annual cost would be around $ US 20,000.
If a small/medium size company wishes to become involved in a centre based strategy but feels that the costs involved are too large, they need not go it alone. There are three alternative approaches available. The first is to identify another corporate sector company anxious to participate in street children activities and combine to share the costs of a jointly developed centre. The second is to invite a community based organisation such as a Rotary or Lions Club to contribute to the recurring costs of a new centre. The third is to seek out a concerned NGO or church group currently running a centre with which it could work. The company could then undertake to cover one or two of the three main cost factors identified in the preceding paragraph.
Street Based Programmes
There are two major types of activity that may be regarded as street based programmes but both are generally better implemented when they are associated with a centre based activity. In fact, they may be considered as an 'outreach programme' of a centre. They are however, presented separately as they can each well stand on their own from the point of view of funding. The two programmes are:
1. Supplementary feeding; and
2. Street education.
Malnutrition is probably the most common characteristic of street children. The need for medical services on the part of street children can, more often than not, be traced back to malnutrition. Drug abuse generally begins as an escape from the pangs of hunger as all too often the meagre amount earned as a result of a lone day's labour is not adequate to provide a sufficient intake of food. The desire for an adequate supply of food will always take priority over the wish for better shelter even when the weather is at its worst. Some sort of shelter can always be found, but an adequate intake of food is another matter. Given this situation, the provision of supplementary feeding programmes must be a priority consideration.
Most supplementary feeding programmes use an established location to provide a hot evening meal consisting of rice, vegetables and meat. Usually such programmes seek to feed a given number of between 50 and 100 children on a regular daily basis, 365 days a year. Those coming to the identified point need not be the same children each day, but the supply has to be such that the regular predetermined number can be fed. Given the type of meal provided, it is most appropriate to have the meal produced and consumed at an established drop-in centre. While the supplementary feeding programme can be considered an integral part of the regular activities of the drop-in centre, it is advantageous to see it as a separate activity from an accounting and hence a funding point of view. In this way an organisation can be responsible for funding the feeding programme while not being involved in any other way with the drop-in centre.
A rough upper estimate of the annual cost of providing a supplementary feeding programme catering for between 50 and 75 children each day would be about $US 10,000
Most of the children living on the streets have not completed primary education and do not currently attend school. Most are bright and many are ambitious, but without an adequate educational background their prospects are limited. If their ambitions are to be realised, they require additional education.
Generally street children are alienated from the rest of society which is often the result of abuse and harsh treatment. This is especially so from the police, many of whom implement campaigns to "clean up the streets" with excessive vigour and appear to regard all children as criminals despite the fact that only a minority engage in petty crime detrimental to society at large. Because of their degrading experiences, there is always the tendency for children to be sucked further and further into what has been eloquently described as a "black sub-culture", despite their generally and genuinely expressed wish to reform. If the situation of street children is to improve, there is a clear need for them to obtain guidance in the context of moral, social and religious issues as well as being taken forward in terms of their ability with the conventional "3 R's". These are the main areas which street educators set out to deal with but their functions include the provision of advice with respect to medical services and general counselling which enable the children to better protect themselves.
Street educators must be able to effectively communicate with the children who are generally distrustful of adults. The street educators must be seen as allies rather than enemies: they must be seen as supportive rather than threatening. Consequently there must not be too big an age gap between educator and pupil. Appropriately qualified young educators must be more than middle-class do-gooders; they must be dedicated to the task and in order to build up an appropriate relationship with the children, they must become completely immersed in street life. They must be prepared to spend a large part of their time on the streets not simply in performing an education role but in getting to know the children, and in so doing, gaining their trust. Over time, the children will be prepared to divulge their basic concerns and ambitions and a committed street educator can then help in seeking ways to deal with these issues. Clearly what is required of the street educator is not so much academic qualifications or social work training but an ability to convey human kindness and understanding. Hence in order to be effective in this sort of activity, it is necessary to be in tune with the human and physical environment in which one operates.
While it is not essential that street educators work out of drop-in centres, there is an obvious advantage if they do. They then have an institution to which they can refer the children that they encounter on the streets who are in most need of centre based assistance. Another advantage is that they can get to know the children who frequent the drop-in centre and then attempt to create friendships between these children and those without such contacts.
As street educators have to spend a lot of time on the streets, at all hours of the day and night, it is inevitable that they will not have family commitments of their own. It is also more than likely that they will be relatively young. Given their social conscience, they will not expect to receive a high level of remuneration, hence the cost of this form of action requires only a modest level of financial support. The funding of an individual street educator over a period of a year is well within the reach of even the smallest commercial unit. Alternatively, a larger company may decide to finance a team of street educators. Such teams can be made up of generalists or specialists. Drugmaker's Laboratories Inc. for example, is involved with the Sidewalk Sunday School Project (SSS) which may be seen as an example of specialist activity. The SSS now operates in many parts of Metro Manila bringing an interdenominational religious ministry to children aged between 6 and 12 years. The presentation is upbeat, dynamic and simple. It is filled with music, games, lessons and activities that can both catch and hold a child's attention. It is entertaining as well as educational.
Factory/Community Based Programmes
Factory/Community based programmes can be seen as both curative and preventive.
Preventive action includes family welfare education programmes with which many industrial undertakings in the Philippines have been involved for many years. As one participant at the 1996 PMAP Convention observed, "perhaps the priority should be given not to helping street children but preventing the emergence of 'Delinquent Parents'!" Programmes which discuss family welfare, responsible parenthood and the significance of family size can clearly have an impact in preventive terms. So too can those programmes which develop income generating skills and access to social services. This is also true of programmes which emphasise the significance of primary education.
It is estimated that about 40 out of every 100 students drop out of school before reaching 6th Grade. Though the Philippine educational system offers free elementary and high school education in public schools, parents still have to provide for incidental expenses, the most important of which are school uniforms, snacks and travel. These are the costs which many cannot afford. Parents who cannot afford to send their children to school, simply don't. Consequently some 400,000 students drop out of school every year. Most cannot find jobs and therefore many take to the streets, first as urban informal sector workers but then as street children. If a parent were to be given funds to cover the cost of two school uniforms, P 20 or so per day for snacks, and another P 10 per day for jeepney fares for each child, then the primary school drop-out rate would fall dramatically. The annual sum involved per child would be no more than $US 45. If only the cost of school uniforms were covered, a significant change would take place. The corporate sector could begin to make an impact on school drop-out rates by providing additional funds to all their workers who have children. This could be seen as a legitimate request on the part of the trade unions.
Fr. Pierre Tritz S.J., the President of the Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation (ERDA), based in Quezon City, points out that the most formative period in the life of a child is when it is aged between 3 - 5 years, that is the immediate pre-school years. From this premise, Fr. Tritz argues that pre-school education is of vital importance in the development of the child. In the context of street children issues, the hypothesis is that if a child attends a pre-school class, then interest in learning is awakened at the correct time and he or she will develop an almost insatiable desire for learning. Consequently the child, rather than becoming a willing primary school drop-out, will do everything to remain in school even if it means going against parental wishes. Hence the potential for taking to the streets is considerably reduced. Through the Foundation ERDA has established over 240 pre-school classes in slum areas throughout Metro Manila. Each class has facilities for around 30 children. The overall cost of each class is $US 1,020 per year and this sum provides pre-school education for 30 children. As Fr. Tritz emphasises, this aggregate annual cost for 30 children is less than the unit cost of providing private pre-school education for one child!!
An examination of the prevailing opportunity for such enterprise in the poorer barangays located in the vicinity of their plant is something that many industrialists could favourably consider given the low cost and high (but unquantifiable) benefit of such an activity.
The potential for such preventive programmes should be attractive to small to medium enterprises wishing to embark on factory/community programmes. There are, however, also opportunities to embark on curative action within the factory/community framework.
Given both the prevalence to undernourishment found amongst children on the streets as well as the high risk of accidents as a result of the sometimes heavy work which informal sector child workers have to undertake, the need for medical facilities amongst street children is relatively high. To this must also be added the incidence amongst street children of self-induced suffering as a result of alcohol and/or drug abuse. Regardless of the primary causal factor, the medical needs generally remain unmet thus aggravating the plight of those children who are unfortunate enough to become sick or injured.
An awareness of such problems on the part of the corporate sector could result in individual companies being prepared to make their clinic facilities available to help alleviate the situation. The staff of drop-in centres in the immediate neighbourhood of the factory could be made aware of the fact that plant level medical facilities would be available for sick children whenever possible. Another way in which assistance could be provided to sick street children could be to encourage medical and paramedic staff from the industrial sector to undertake voluntary work involving street children within the immediate environs of the plant, or alternatively, management could allow such activities to be regarded as a normal part of the work schedule at specified times. Making staff and clinic facilities available in this way would involve little direct monetary cost while the real cost would also be relatively small.
PHILACOR has been one of the pioneers in the development of family welfare programmes in the Philippines and over the past two decades, special attention to the family concerns of its employees has been a priority area within the company. Believing that a happy family life contributes to the productive potential of every employee, the company, under the dynamic leadership of the late Mr. Eliseo V. Cruz, Vice-President for Industrial Relations and Employee Services - who was assassinated in 1989 - as well as the able positive support of the company President Mr. Dante G. Santos, developed a multi-faceted family welfare programme which expanded and diversified during the decade of the 'eighties. At that time, the PHILACOR Family Welfare Program, which actively encouraged the involvement of all employees, became a model not only for other companies in the Philippines but for companies located throughout the world. Not content with the leadership role attained in the 1980's, PHILACOR has continued to diversify its family welfare programme. The latest innovation is the concept of an Annual Children's Summer Camp. This idea was conceived in 1993 since when the Camp has been held each summer. It is open to all children of PHILACOR employees aged between six and twelve years old. The programme aims to give the participants a chance to experience outdoor living and to instill in them positive values and attitudes such as obedience, trust, perseverance, sharing and work. The 1996 programme which was held at Mt. Makiling, Laguna, was attended by 44 children under the leadership of members of the Family Welfare Council of PHILACOR. This is an interesting programme supported by the work force of the company and, like the other family welfare initiatives, can only have a positive impact on productivity. It is worthy of replication in other companies.
Such a programme, however, could be expanded to include a small number of street children selected from the immediate environs of the factory compound. The addition of three or four street children to a party of about 40 -50 would not add significantly to the cost of the programme or the amount of effort required of the staff at the camp. Meanwhile, the positive values being instilled into the 'company' participants would be equally as relevant for street children. They would also benefit from mixing with ordinary children for a short period. This would enable them to see the positive side of family life and perhaps stimulate a desire for reintegration on their part.
It may be argued that the mixing of street children with children from families could have a negative effect on some from the latter group. Although this may be true, it is unlikely given the fact that there would only be a very small minority of street children in the party and they would, in all probability, be most anxious not to spoil what to them would be a unique and positive experience.
This idea of mixing street children with the children of company employees may be taken a stage further by considering inviting a small but positively selected number of street children to attend factory sports days or family days. Such mingling would again emphasise positive aspects of family life.
The implementation of these ideas in the context of a corporate sector approach to street children issues would have an impact on such a small number of street children that its relevance may be questioned. Admittedly its impact would be miniscule. However, what this example does is show that there are all manna of innovative ideas that are capable of having a street children dimension added to them and the cumulative impact of many small actions can, sooner or rata, come to have a not insignificant impact on the overall problem. The objective than is to stimulate personnel directors and corporate Board members to think about the issue of street children and come up with their own innovative ideas, developed in the context of company resources and the extant of the problem in the vicinity of the factory compound.
Training Based Programmes
Skills training can play an important role in the reintegration process of street children.
"Teach them a skill." is an acclaimed solution, but it is not so clear cut when attempts are made to put what on the surface appears to be a positive approach into practice.
Skills training can be costly. Facilities are necessary in tams of appropriate space, skilled teachers, and technological equipment. The time period is necessarily long and, in many situations, residential facilities will be required. Where this is so, it is often only a small step to developing an institutional code which is not far removed in tams of rules and regulations from a reform centre or similar institution. There are numerous examples, especially in Vietnam, of children running away from such residential skills-training centres and once more becoming street children!! If this happens there are no beneficial returns from what has been a costly investment.
What skills should be taught? Clearly only those that are going to be relevant in the future. To teach current skills in an era of technological change can be irrelevant. Again, the teaching of skills can be self-defeating if job opportunities are not available at the completion of training. A skilled but unemployed worker can be more frustrated than a poor street child!! Yet in numerous situations, the skills being taught are not even currently used skills but those applicable to an earlier period which leaders with authority may feel have 'character building' or other equally antiquated attributes. It is essential that skills training is appreciated for what it is - skills training - and not character building or even institutional income generating.
In keeping with a more positive approach to skills training, the Ministry of Education in Thailand is now providing training in computer skills and English language for young girls in the rural areas of Northern Thailand. These are the communities, which until now have been famous, or rather infamous, for the recruitment of child prostitutes. The government now feels that it is important to teach modern skills and so create a strong urban-based income creating potential for the future, rather than teach domestic science or embroidery which would only keep the girls in the village until they were enticed into the sex industry of the urban areas. With the teaching of modern skills which will meet a high labour demand, the children will be able to enter the industrial sector from a position of relative strength.
Prior to developing a skills training facility it is essential that research is carried out to identify the FUTURE requirements of the industrial sector so that the training given will be relevant.
It is also important that any skills training programme includes an element of on-the-job training. Not only does this provide a crucial element to the actual training but it also enables the student to appreciate the advantages of working within the formal sector, while at the same time facilitating contacts with a company that can ease the ultimate job seeking process.
The fact that skills training programmes require a proven level of conventional education as a prerequisite, should not be overlooked. It may be necessary for street children to undertake initial intensive formal education courses to bring them up to the necessary entry standard for a skills training course. This is something that street educators are not likely to be able to provide. However, they can inspire likely children to re-enter formal education in an effort to bring themselves up to the necessary entry standard for skills training. It is therefore appropriate to consider skills training as an evolutionary process. The street educators concentrate on the younger element of the street children population, say those in the 10 - 12 year old category, and stimulate them to spend some time, at least half of each day, in formal education for the next three to four years. Then, when they are about 15 or 16 years old they are able to progress to technical training be it in a technical high school or skills training centre. This is the approach taken by the Christina Noble Foundation which is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Christina Noble herself grew up as a street child and appreciated this evolutionary format, so that the Foundation now sponsors street educators; organises and runs its own half day formal education classes (the children attend for half of each day, but the classes run for the full day on the basis of a shift system); and supports the government skills training centres.
An additional expenditure which is involved in the process described in the preceding paragraph, which consequently has to be covered from external sources, is the provision of technical education at the post-15 year old level. ERDA has estimated that the overall cost of such education works out at over $US 1,000 per head per year. There is, therefore, an opportunity for membres of the corporate sector to consider providing a limited number of scholarships or fellowships to meet this need. These could be made on a general basis or, perhaps of greater positive consequence for the recipient, tied to future employment with the company.
Clearly there is a role for corporate sector involvement in training based programmes.
First there is the opportunity to provide on-the-job facilities as a relevant essential input into any skills training programme, be that programme implemented by the government or the corporate sector. There is, however, a more substantive role that can be filled, and that is to become directly involved in the establishment of relevant skills training facilities. This may be done in conjunction with the government or a major concerned NGO but it is hoped that skills training centres will in future be devised, developed and implemented exclusively by the corporate sector. The development of such skills training initiatives will, however, be a costly undertaking.
There are a number of alternative possibilities in this context. Larger firms, especially substantial outposts of multi-national companies, could invest in their own centres providing skilled workers for ultimate employment both in their own company as well as in others. Such a development could become more attractive if appropriate tax incentives were to be made available by the government. What, however, is likely to be more feasible, is for a number of companies to combine in establishing a centre.
There is every possibility that the 170 or so members of the Philippine Business for Social Progress Foundation (PBSP) could be persuaded to become involved in this type of activity. The considerable resources of PBSP stem from the dedication of member companies to deliver solutions to poverty through programmes which develop the quality of life. Hence it would not be inappropriate if members were to seek to improve the plight of street children who, despite many being both bright and innovative, are clearly amongst the poorest of the poor.
There is a great deal to be said for encouraging the larger institutions within the corporate sector to become directly involved in the provision of skills training facilities through the provision of the considerable financial inputs required. However, if this is to happen, it must be done in a coordinated way. Companies should be discouraged from acting in an ad hoc independent manna. In no way must an element of competition enter into the situation otherwise duplication could well arise. If companies wishing to provide skills training facilities belong to the PBSP, than the Foundation would be in an ideal position to take the lead in the development of a coordinated programme, otherwise a special committee of ECOP or PMAP could be established to oversee such a development. At the same time government must be involved in terms of planning and implementation through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Employment.
The idea to encourage the corporate sector to become involved in the provision of skills training facilities for street children is an attractive one, especially if it can be tied in with appropriate tax incentives. However, there is likely to be a considerable obstacle to the development of such an innovative concept. What will be the attitude of the current work force? Jobs are scarce. All children, not just street children are in need of skills training. Why should street children be treated more favourably than those children who have remained at home? Most workers have large numbers of children of school age. Are their children to be discriminated against? These are strong arguments and they must not be neglected. Help and assistance must be given to the children of workers as well as to street children. In terms of skills training, there must be no discrimination. Street children must be treated no different than any other children. If this principle is established, than there is a chance of progress for all.
A wide variety of possible corporate sector interventions for the benefit of street children has been presented in this section. With the exception of the establishment of skills training facilities, the implied financial inputs are relatively modest if one is thinking of individual community based action. In fact, the annual cost of maintaining a drop-in centre to accommodate 30 children is probably the most costly and this need not be more than $US 20,000, which in terms of current profit margins enjoyed by the larger companies, is relatively small. At the other extreme is the figure of P 100 per month which will provide the needed support for the primary education of a poor urban child. Specific needs can be identified at any point between these two extremes. This is perhaps the main attraction in engaging in the activity of contributing to the alleviation of the plight of street children. As long as one is dealing with the issues at community level, the needs can be analysed in such a way that any proposed input can be geared to the level of resources available.
The national problem may be immense; the city problem may be frightening when seen in tams of maybe tens of thousands, there may be many street children within the immediate community of the workplace. However, the street children situation even at community level, is capable of being broken down into even smaller groups than the aggregate within the community. Hence the action a company may decide to take will be determined by the financial contribution required, which is geared to the resources available within the company. If the majority of the institutions within the corporate sector of a country or city are interested in working to help street children, then each need only do what they can in order to develop a programme for a particular group. In this way the overall action can be impressive.
This section is being written with a specialist readership in mind. It is assumed that any action undertaken by an individual firm designed to benefit street children will originate from the Personnel Department. While it would be nice to think that this Guidebook has already been read by the President and entire Board of the company, it is probably more realistic to work from the assumption that the initiative will come from the individual in charge of Personnel or Human Resource Development and that that person is now ready to embark on the task of persuading the Board to develop a relevant programme. The purpose of this section is, therefore, to set out a programme plan of action in a sequential manner for the benefit of the Personnel or Human Resource Manager.
The following tabular presentation identifies ten steps, each of which is then described in some detail.
Table 2: A Proposed Programme Plan of Action
Awareness creation amongst Board Members
Determination of available resources
Establishment of a Project Committee
Liaison with Corporate Sector Coordinating Committee
Identification of street children numbers in the community
Liaison with concerned NGO's and church representatives
Awareness creation amongst workers
Determination of an appropriate project
Development of project work-programme
Project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
While implementation of the above ten sequential steps should result in optimising the impact of the programme, it is not necessary to consider each and every one as an exclusive operation, for example, it is possible that steps 5 and 6 may be undertaken simultaneously. However, they are each dealt with as separate items in the following sections.
Step 1: Awareness Creation Amongst Board Members
The first task in developing a street children programme is to convince the President and Board members that the company has a moral responsibility to participate in the alleviation of the plight of street children and that charity in the conventional interpretation of the word is not enough. What is needed is a structured plan of action.
There is every possibility that top management may not even appreciate the extent of the street children problem within the country or even in the immediate vicinity of the company complex. Consequently, awareness creation involves two factors. The first is to create a knowledge of the prevailing situation, while the second is to present ideas which indicate the possible avenues of action which a corporate body may undertake.
Awareness creation may be undertaken in a number of ways. The initial stage will probably be for the HRD manager to present a brief paper as an agenda item at a Board Meeting. As a second step, Board members may be given copies of the Guidebook and told to read it in its entirety. While some will, it is more than likely that the majority will not. It is therefore necessary that time is found to make a second and more detailed verbal presentation which will involve presenting the details relating to both incidence and possible solutions. While this is best done with a certain degree of passion, it is essential that the "heart is not allowed to over-rule the head", but at the same time, no member of the Board must be allowed to brush off the issue by emphasising that this should be seen as a government responsibility. If this point is made, it must be stated that the long term preventive aspect, which involves the elimination of poverty, is clearly a government concern, but the curative element required to deal with the problems of children currently on the streets must involve community action and the company is an integral part of the community. Although the determination of available resources is presented as a specific step in the programme of action, it may be a useful strategy to emphasise at the outset that the magnitude of the input into any programme will be determined by the overall financial position of the company.
It may be that the HRD manager may wish to have the case presented to the Board by someone more knowledgeable about the issues than he or she is. This is an excellent idea but the 'right' person must be brought in. In all probability someone from the Department of Social Welfare and Development would NOT be appropriate: such a person would probably be too institutionalised, both in outlook and in terms of potential programme content. It would be far better to invite someone from a concerned NGO or better still, a member of the PMAP/COMREL Committee.
It may well be that there is an immediate positive response on the part of the Board members, in which case the HRD manager must ensure that there is immediate follow-up and that attitudes are not allowed to cool. A good strategy would be to suggest dates for further discussion by the Board at the end of the initial meeting. A subsequent Board meeting will be necessary to establish the precise availability of resources which is step 2 of the programme plan of action and the composition of a project sub-committee which is step 3.
Step 2: Determination of Available Resources
A key element of any company project for street children is the amount of funds available for such an activity. At the outset an assessment must be made of the availability of funds. As pointed out in the preceding chapter, needs are such that inputs ranging from as little as hundreds of Philippine pesos a month to tens of thousands of United States dollars a year can be utilised. The most positive approach is not to identify a problem to be solved and then set out to find the funds but to see what funds are available and then design a programme accordingly. This latter approach will be the more attractive to business operatives. However, an important point that must be emphasised at the outset is that whatever the nature of the project, it has to be planned to extend over a number of years. Four to five years must be seen as a minimum commitment on the part of the company, be it to set up a drop-in centre, create a pre-school class, finance a street educator programme or just provide supplementary primary school costs for the children of its own workers.
Step 3: Establishment of a Project Committee
While the staff of the HRD unit will, in all probability, be responsible for the overall development and implementation of any project, it would be appropriate to establish a small project management committee consisting of one or two members of the Board, representatives of senior management plus one or two worker representatives. If the company has a family welfare programme, some of the members of the committee of that programme may wish to utilise their experience gained in the family welfare field to make an input into the administration of a street children programme. This experience would be of particular significance during the initial meetings of the committee when possible project ideas are being examined and the eventual project proposal is being developed.
Step 4: Liaison with Corporate Sector Coordinating Unit
Following the successful session on street children issues which was part of the 1996 PMAP Convention, it is envisaged that corporate sector street children activities will be coordinated from a special unit to be established within the HRM Foundation of PMAP early in 1997. This unit will possess information about street children not only in Metro Manila but throughout the Philippines. One of the tasks envisaged for the unit will be to develop programmes for street children involving corporate sector members. The unit will therefore be able to help in the development of programmes within individual corporations. It can assist with awareness creation amongst both Board Members and workers; it can help individual companies to identify community needs as well as attempt to coordinate in a general way the programmes being developed by the companies. By so doing the possibility of duplication with respect to the provision of facilities will therefore be kept to a minimum. Consequently there is much for an individual company to gain by making maximum use of the expertise available within the coordinating unit.
Step 5: Identification of Street Children Numbers in the Community
It is apparent that the corporate sector can play an important part at community level in alleviating the plight of street children. After a decision has been reached within the company to become involved with street children and the financial ability to do so has been established, the next important task is to examine the incidence of street children within the neighbourhood in which the plant is located. This should not be difficult. The members of the plant family welfare committee, if one exists, should be able to provide fairly detailed information with ease. However, an awareness of numbers is only part of the assessment of the problem. It is also important to discover what facilities are already available for street children of the area as a result of action on the part of concerned NGO's. Are there drop-in centres or street educators or supplementary feeding schemes already available in the community? The last thing one should attempt to do is to disregard what is already in place. However, even if activities already are taking place, there is every possibility that there will be room for further inputs, hence the need for a coordinated and structured approach, developed on the basis of an initial in-depth assessment of the prevailing situation.
Step 6: Liaison with Concerned NGO's and Church Representatives
It is essential to work closely with concerned NGO's and church representatives based in the community. This is necessary at both the formulation and implementation stages of a project and is first introduced as part of the problem identification exercise. The local clergy are likely to already be involved with street children issues and even if, in some cases, they are not actively implicated in the implementation of specific activities they will be aware of the existence of a problem and will certainly have some ideas as to what action needs to be taken and where new resources, be they financial or physical, can best be utilised. Similarly, non church based concerned NGO's such as CHILDHOPE may be active in the vicinity of the plant and will therefore be able to participate in programme formulation. Clearly, if such national organisations. are not already active in the community, their ability to make a positive specific contribution will be somewhat limited, but, nevertheless, given their overall experience of street children issues, they may still be able to make worthwhile suggestions of a general nature.
At the time of project implementation, there may be an advantage in having outside agencies represented on the project committee in an advisory capacity.
As ideas for action develop there may be the opportunity for bringing new actors to the stage in terms of facilitating institutions. There is no reason why a corporate body which embarks on a successful street children programme does not itself encourage other community based bodies, such as the local rotary club to become active through the development of a separate activity which can then be coordinated with the street children activity of the company. The relevance of this can be appreciated when it is realised that the impact of a corporate sector street children programme is optimised when considered as a structured act of social welfare development rather than a heart warming act of charity.
Step 7: Awareness Creation Amongst Workers
The involvement of rank and file workers will increase the impact of any street children project. This can be achieved in a number of ways. The workforce can, if properly motivated, be encouraged to undertake a specific activity of their own or alternatively, make a financial contribution to that being developed by the company. For example, a weekly collection may be made to fund part of a street educator programme or supplementary feeding project, while on the other hand, a special activity could be organised from time to time to provide some recreational facility such as a TV set for a drop-m centre. However, the input of workers need not be confined to financial contributions if some sort of centre is to be developed. There will be a need for physical inputs from time to time, especially at the outset of a project when electrical, carpentry, decorating and other skills will be required.
As with the awareness creation of Board Members, workers should be told about the incidence of the street children m the environs of the workplace and the long term implications of the current situation as well as possible solutions that the company can become involved in. While the workforce may well be more familiar with the intensity of the prevailing community situation, it is important that, at the outset, they be made aware of the extent of the proposed financial commitment which the Board is prepared to make. In this context it should be emphasised that the Board will convey to the community at large that the effort being made is a joint management/labour initiative.
It may be worthwhile to emphasise the importance of family welfare in general, including the significance of family size, as part of a street children awareness creation activity for the workforce. The discussion of street children issues with the workers provides a useful opportunity to examine the need for providing an additional annual educational subsidy to their workers m order to prevent some of their children, especially those from larger families from becoming school-drop-outs.
It is assumed that m any awareness creation programme for workers management will work closely with the unions m implementing such activities. In addition to arranging lunch time meetings at which the issues can be presented, appropriate written materials may be developed for distribution, preferably through the union network while use can also be made of notice boards for conveying the message by means of appropriate posters.
Step 8: Determination of an Appropriate Project
Before devising an appropriate project proposal, the committee must be aware of the important parameters within which they will have to work: These are:
· The amount of financial resources available;
· The initial time-frame established by the Board;
· The extent of the street children problem in the community;
· The attitude of the work-force to any proposed activity;
· The potential for working in cooperation with other institutions within the community.
In the light of these determining factors a decision can be made regarding the specific nature which a project could take. However, one important point must be borne in mind. The decision must not be rushed. There is need for careful discussion not only with responsible bodies within the community, but to the maximum extent possible, with street children themselves. This may not be as difficult as at first sight it might appear. Such discussions can be facilitated by street educators or effective leaders of currently on-going activities in neighbouring communities who, more often than not, have a good relationship with the children on the streets.
Step 9: Development of Project Work-Programme
Having established the nature and direction of the proposed programme on the basis of available resources, perceived needs and degree of commitment, the next step for the project committee is to establish a viable work programme which sets out an achievable time frame. Again the committee should endeavour to build on the experience gained by other NGO's already active in other communities.
The next important task is to appoint staff. If it is decided to establish a centre of one kind or another or set up a supplementary feeding programme, then it will be necessary to have someone to manage the activity on a day to day basis. Clearly this person must possess management skills but of more importance is an ability to relate positively with the street children. This needs a degree of understanding but firmness will also be required. What is not absolutely essential is a post-graduate academic qualification in social studies!!
If the proposed programme involves the appointment of street educators, again the selection of individuals with the right type of personality is paramount. The street educator must be able to relate to the children, must be able to win their confidence and put over messages that the children will appreciate hearing. Clearly this not only involves a relevant knowledge base, but of greater significance is a command of appropriate and acceptable communication skills. To this end it is important that there is not too great an age differential between the educator and the children.
The financial dimension involved in a technical skills training project will be quite considerable and the 'lead in' time will be relatively long. The collection of appropriate base-line data relating to future skills requirements is an essential starting off point and this may well involve cooperation with other interested companies. In addition, preliminary but extensive discussions should take place with the relevant government departments including the Departments of Labor and Employment as well as that of Education. However, if a company wishes to become involved in this type of project, the possibility should first be discussed with the International Labour Office.
Step 10: Project Implementation. Monitoring and Evaluation.
The day to day running of the project will be the responsibility of the staff appointed to implement the programme. At the outset, a tentative programme will be set up by the project management committee but this will, in all probability, be adjusted as the initial impact is assessed. The committee will however have an important overseeing role and will be responsible for ultimate decision taking. This will necessitate regular and relatively frequent meetings, probably on a monthly basis (and even more frequent at the outset of project implementation). In addition, 'on-site' visits will also be required.
A key factor in the running and future development of the project will be the creation of an effective monitoring system based on the submission of regular reports. Such reports will provide not only information on costs and expenditure but also on activities undertaken plus an assessment of impact. The report should be prepared and submitted to the management committee on a monthly basis. It then becomes the basic document for the regular meeting of the committee. An important element in any monitoring programme is that of feed-back from the recipient of the report. Unfortunately this is something which is quite often overlooked. Every effort should be made to provide a written reaction to each report received within one week of receipt. This should be done even if a substantive comment is not called for. By providing prompt feed-back, even if it is confined to an acknowledgement of receipt only, field workers then see that their effort is appreciated.
Provision should be made to evaluate the project at the end of the first year of implementation and thereafter at regular intervals. The evaluation team should include a member from outside the company.
On the basis of the results of the evaluation exercise any suggested changes in the project should be examined and implemented when such an action is justified. Similarly with the regular monitoring process, if the need for an adjustment in the approach is identified, this should be considered at the first available opportunity.
This section has attempted to set out a programme plan of action. Although ten stages have been identified, this has really only been done to indicate the various steps that should be considered. However, some are only slightly different stages of a more integrated whole. Consequently, the amount of work and effort involved in seeing up a street children project is not likely to be as great as what might, at first glance appear to be required. It is to be hoped that no reader has been put off by the detail presented.
An attempt has been made in this Guidebook to do two things. First, to assess the impact of street children and the associated problems in the Philippines, and second, to set out what approaches can be undertaken by individual companies within the corporate sector to contribute to the alleviation of this considerable and growing social problem facing Philippine society.
It has been argued that overall the problem is large, but if looked at from a community perspective it is not insurmountable. However, if any impact is to be made to alleviate the plight of children currently on the streets, commitment has to be made by those in a position to do so and that means the corporate sector. No-one can argue that the responsibility really should be that of the government, but demands for overall social and economic development outstrip available resources to such an extent that there is no chance that government will be in a position to meet the current needs of street children. Help must be sought from elsewhere. Consequently the corporate sector must be persuaded to provide a significant proportion of the required resources. It is felt that this can best be achieved by individual action along the lines outlined in chapters 4 and 5 above.
An important point which has been emphasised in a number of places in the preceding sections is that, despite the extent of the problem in the national context, the commitment required from individual companies need not be great and should not exceed a reasonable input. A paramount concept being postulated is the importance of a company input being based on the principle of self assessment of its ability to assist.
The involvement of the corporate sector in directly dealing with a specific social problem will be a somewhat innovative approach. However, the experience of the decades of the 'seventies and 'eighties, when numerous companies located throughout the Philippines developed and then implemented family welfare programmes which were in turn, in a number of instances, followed by community welfare activities is an encouraging precedent. It is hoped that corporate sector involvement with street children issues will take off in a similar way.