Media urged to help throw light on child labour
THE International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an international not-for-profit organisation working to protect the rights of children and adults in cocoa-growing areas in West Africa, has appealed to the media to shed more light on issues of child labour in the country to prevent other children from falling victim.
While admitting that not all forms of work performed by children especially on farms could be termed as child labour, the organisation however acknowledged that the phenomenon was real, particularly in the cocoa growing sector.
It said there were some works that children could do in cocoa production and at home as well which were not considered as child labour.
For instance, it said picking of cocoa pods, gathering of cocoa pods and scooping cocoa beans could be done by children aged from 13 to 17 years legally.
The Deputy Country Director of ICI, Prince Gyamfi, said the media had a big role to play in the country’s effort to curb the menace of child labour and forced labour.
“We expect the media to use their platform to create awareness of child labour and also distinguish between what a child can do and what a child cannot do, which I call acceptable work for children,” he said.
He said most of the children involved in child labour were orphans, school dropouts, “children from irresponsible parents and those who live within the vicinity of works that employ child labour”.
“These children are at risk of child labour and if you do not prevent these children or you don’t act on it and ensure that those children are prevented, there is the tendency that in future, they could also be enrolled in the child labour practice,” he said.
Mr Gyamfi made the appeal at a training workshop organised by the Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) for its members.
The four-day workshop was organised under the auspices of the NORAD-funded “Tackling child /forced labour in Ghanaian Cocoa and gold mining” project which is being implemented by ICI and its partners: Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad West Africa.
According to Mr Gyamfi, if a child was at risk of child labour and the child was not attending school, “the likelihood of that person or for that child to go into the situation of child labour may be high.”
He explained that if the child dropped out of school and was roaming about the streets, “anybody can ask that child to help and in so doing, the child can also be exposed to hazardous activities”.
He said the ICI had started implementing remediation programmes to curtail child and forced labour in cocoa producing communities in Ghana.
Mr Gyamfi said the programme had an inherent goal of helping to improve the income of farmers.