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  Child soldiers given chance of education
Updated 17 December 2001, 17.03

Child soldiers in Colombia are finally being given the chance to go to school and get away from civil war.

Around 6,000 children aged between 12 to 17 are forced or choose to join rebel armies in the South American country, reports the Guardian newspaper.

But now the Colombian government has set up 'safe houses', shelters for child fighters who desert or are captured by the army.

No education

Three million of the 14 million children in Colombia don't have access to any education and see the army as their only future. The biggest army is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) who has around 17,000 soldiers, many of them children.

Some, like Marisol, 16, have family in the Farc, and so join up too. Up until six months ago she was a commander in charge of 100 soldiers.

Hope

But now, after five years of fighting, Marisol is in one of the shelters and is getting help with reading, writing and maths.

The hope is the children will stay away from the fighting and crime after they leave the shelters, armed with education rather than guns.


 
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