Countering Child Labour via Education Post-Covid: IOI’s 2021 Action Pledge with ILO
15/12/2021Corporate Communications

IOI Child Education Initiative is timely as we emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted children's education. We launch the initiative on-site in Sandakan and joined by participants at IOI HQ (pix above) to enable our plantation employees' children to continue their learning and social interactions for after-school hours. (File pic by IOI Corporation).

IOI Corporation Berhad (IOI) launched its IOI Child Education Initiative to provide additional educational platform access for its plantation employees’ children in Sabah. The event, which took place in a hybrid mode on 13 December 2021, involved more than 120 participants and attendees from IOI headquarters and estates in both Sandakan and Lahad Datu regions in Sabah, IOI’s Sustainability Advisory Panel members as well as representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Humana Child Aid Society Sabah (HUMANA).

The launch of IOI Child Education Initiative forms part of ILO’s International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. IOI submitted its pledge “To Counter Child Labour via Education Post-Covid: Providing Full-Day Zero Cost Educational Platform Access to our Employees’ Children” to ILO in April 2021 to reflect IOI’s commitment to eliminate all forms of illegal, forced, bonded, compulsory and child labour as stated in its Sustainable Palm Oil Policy.

“IOI strongly believes in providing educational opportunities to all children regardless of their background. With proper education, children will get a head start in life as they become more empowered,” said IOI Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Dato’ Lee Yeow Chor. “Currently, about 3000 children of our plantation employees aged between 6 to 17 years old are attending classes in 27 HUMANA schools and 12 Community Learning Centres during normal school hours, making us the largest private provider of plantation-based education in Sabah,” he added.

Sharing the joy of learning. IOI Plantation Director Mr NB Sudhakaran (third from left) and IOI Plantation Senior Plantation Controller (Sandakan Region) Mr Kumaresh Ragunathan (third from right) posing for a group picture with the on-site launch committee as well as HUMANA schoolchildren with their free schoolbags at Sandakan, Sabah. (File pic by IOI Corporation).

IOI Child Education Initiative will continue to enhance IOI’s present efforts in providing basic education to children of migrant workers living within our estates, a commitment that started about 25 years ago through the IOI-HUMANA collaboration. To date, IOI has spent tens of millions in constructing buildings for the schools, Community Learning Centres and teachers’ accommodation, as well as providing free utilities and subsidising teachers’ salaries. Going forward, IOI will spend about RM6 million a year for paying the teachers’ extra allowances as well as providing the children with nutritious lunches, free uniforms, school bags and stationeries through its charitable foundation Yayasan Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng (Yayasan TSLSC).

Dato’ Lee Yeow Chor (centre) accompanied by Yayasan TSLSC Executive Director Datin Joanne Wong (left) and IOI Group Head of Sustainability Dr Surina Ismail (right) taking a ‘group picture’ at IOI HQ with the virtual participants (background screen) who attended the launch of IOI Child Education Initiative. (File pic by IOI Corporation).

IOI has collaborated with ILO in making this pledge as we firmly believe that we can help to provide children with better and more varied opportunities which can help to eliminate exploitation such as child labour. This initiative can also help to reduce the risk of having children working in oil palm estates especially during after-school hours by providing these children with further access to educational platforms for after-school hours period. Therefore, we are introducing various educational platforms to bridge the educational gaps of children in our operations and helping to facilitate them towards the path of higher education. We are focusing on providing offline education platforms due to unstable internet connections as most of our migrant workers with children are in poorly connected areas in Sabah.

IOI Child Education Initiative is also very much in alignment with IOI’s adoption of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and UNSDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and our three pillars of sustainability which is people, planet & prosperity.

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