Let’s strive to end child labour

The issue of child labour in the country has been a nightmare and a thorn in the flesh of the nation.

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Child labour deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) further explains, “Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. The participation of children or adolescents above the minimum age for admission to employment in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive.”

“This includes activities such as assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life”.

The Daily Graphic is deeply concerned about child labour because it denies children their right to education, perpetuating poverty and limiting future opportunities. The Ghana Statistical Service estimates that close to 900,000 children between five and 17 years are engaged in employment in the country.

Furthermore, the 2023 Annual Household Income and Expenditure Survey indicated that over 1.1 million children between five and 17 years were involved in different forms of work in the fourth quarter of 2023, which represents one in every 10 that is 10.3 per cent children in this age range.

 Among these children, about 893,000 are involved in work, which is mostly paid work. It said a greater number of the children who were involved in different forms of work were males, made up 56 per cent, and that almost half a million, that is 458,443 of these working children, were not attending school and they included 68,500 who had never attended school and 389,943 who attended school in the past.

Some of these children work in hazardous conditions on farms, particularly in cocoa production, in artisanal mining and quarrying, exposing them to physical harm and health risks, while others were forced into street vending, begging and other forms of exploitation in urban areas.

Some of the children work in hazardous environments, exposing them to physical harm, health risks and psychological trauma. In fact, some are subjected to forced labour, including trafficking and working under slaver-like conditions.

In spite of the worrying statistics, Ghana has made some positive strides in addressing child labour. Aside from the Children’s Act and the ratification of International Conventions to address child labour, in 2023 Ghana launched a new five-year Ghana Accelerated Action Plan Against Child Labour 2023-2027.

The plan highlights the relevance of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration in addressing the root causes of child labour such as strengthening social protection systems, improving access to quality education, enhancing livelihood opportunities for families and promoting decent employment opportunities for the youth.

However, the Daily Graphic believes that with the current situation of child labour across the country, there is the need to double up efforts towards abolishing child labour. To facilitate the process of abolishing it, there will be the need to also eradicate extreme poverty, social norms and local customs, poorly enforced regulatory policies and insufficient resource allocation, which are some of the existing challenges inhibiting efforts at eradicating the menace of child labour in the country.

Government together with all stakeholders, including child rights advocates, must take urgent action to address these issues, including strengthening laws and policies, increasing access to education, and providing support services for affected children and families.

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