The Schools of Peace in Asia
It is estimated that the number of minors 5 to 14 years old working in the world is 250 million. Half of them are in Asia. In fact, Asia is the continent where child labor is most widespread and where there are still forms of forced work of children and true slavery. Children of 8 and 9 are pawned in exchange of small loans to the owners of small cigarettes factories and textile mills where children have to work up to twenty hours a day.
In India and Indonesia an estimated 25% of minors are economically active, and it is considered acceptable for them to work from 12 to 15 hours a day. It is impossible to come up with precise figures of the situation. In particular, the Schools of Peace in Asia fight to keep children from being excluded from school, and from being forced train for work at a young age. It is clear that the activities of the Sant'Egidio 'Schools of Peace have a profound effect on minors' living conditions and on the society's collective mentality that puts so much emphasis on productivity.
In Indonesia the Schools of Peace are characterized by multiethnic and interreligious atmosphere. Young Chinese Christians, who are generally better off, help Indonesian Muslim children study and thus they cooperate in building friendships between Christians and Muslims; concretely helping to build a society without religious or ethnic hatred.