In the small town of Cidade Ocidental, Brazil, nine-year-old Geislane Jose da Silva is helping to support her family - by turning up to class each day. She says, 'I help my mother a lot because I go to school. Now we can pay the electricity bills and buy books, pens and even toys and sandals.'


Geislane is one of 8.7 million Brazilian children enrolled in the Government's national Bolsa Escola programme, which pays poor households to keep their children in school. Launched in 2001, Bolsa Escola combats child labour and reduces absenteeism and drop-out rates by granting poor families a monthly sum of 45 reais ($5) for each child who attends class regularly. The regular income allows them to survive financially without sending their kids out to work.

The programme has enjoyed great success in Brazil, and similar schemes have sprung up across Latin America in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Nicaragua. There are also pilot projects across the Atlantic Ocean in Mozambique and Tanzania.

      photo: R. Jones/UNEP/Topham  
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