The world commemorated International Day Against Child Labour yesterday[June 12]. The commemoration was to highlight the plight of children trapped in the menace globally. June 12, each year is globally celebrated as such, the significance of which is to pay attention to the problem of child labour and find ways to eradicate it.
This year, the day was marked on the theme: "Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour" to echo the call for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labour.
Surely, social protection can be a potent policy tool to prevent families from resorting to child labour in times of crisis. It is true that hardships lead families to give out their children as child labourers in return for money. See story on page 70.
This year’s commemoration comes on the heels of the fifth Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour in South Africa.
Ensuring universal access to social protection is an integral part of the ‘Durban Call to Action’ which was adopted during the conference.
Essentially, it is to help construct a path towards a world free of child labour, as called for under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 8.7, and universal social protection, as reflected in SDG Target 1.3.
It is a fact that Ghana has made strides in its commitment to address the menace of child labour at the international level.
For instance, it was the first country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) and has ratified other equally important instruments, such as the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children, the ILO Convention on Minimum Age, the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and other protocols and child policies.
Additionally, the 1992 Constitution guarantees the right of children to be protected under Article 28. The Children's Act 1998 (Act 560), the Human Trafficking Act 2005 (Act 694), the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732), among other laws, have been beautifully written and assented to, all in the name of protecting the Ghanaian child.
On the face value, one cannot help but applaud Ghana for such impressive legal frameworks designed to give maximum protection to the Ghanaian child.
In line with this year's theme, Ghana can boast a number of social interventions in support of the Ghanaian child.
These include the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) policy, the early child development policy, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the school feeding programme and the free senior high school policy.
The Daily Graphic wonders what has gone wrong, such that in spite of all these beautiful legal frameworks, we are still confronted with the issue of child labour.
Today, a child-centred non-governmental organisation, Challenging Heights, has launched a two-month study it conducted on the activities of children in two municipalities and three districts along the Volta Lake.
With a sample size of 2,999 children interviewed in the study, the results show that 60 per cent of children in the catchment area are child labourers.
The study recommends consistent public education on the impact of the menace on not only children but their families.
It further recommends the need for the affected children to be removed from the situation where they find themselves and place them in safe spaces such as schools, skills training centres and other programmes that will guarantee their safety and future.
The Daily Graphic urges the five areas, namely: the Krachi East and West municipalities and the Buipe, Pru and Kpando districts not to dismiss the report by the NGO but act immediately on it to salvage those children.
We believe that child labour is an affront to the fundamental human rights of children and a threat to their present and future wellbeing.
However, the eradication of child labour from the country can only be possible with all hands on deck, spearheaded by a political will showing the way.