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General News of Tuesday, 18 May 2004

Source: GNA

Children engaged in hazardous labour

Koforidua, May 18, GNA - A National Child Labour Survey by the Ghana Statistical Service indicated that out of the over six million children in Ghana of school-going age between five years and seven years, 1.3 million of them are engaged in hazardous labour. Ms Elizabeth Hagan, Head of Child Labour Unit of the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, said at a stakeholders meeting on child labour in the country at Koforidua.

She said the figure represented 39 per cent of Ghana's children of school going-age, who were out of school and were in the labour market. Ms Hagan said 88 per cent of the affected children were in unpaid family work and apprenticeships while 5.9 per cent were self-employed. She said the research indicated that about 80 per cent of child labour in the country occurred in the rural areas where the children were engaged in shepherding of cattle and sheep; fishing, crop farming and stone quarrying.

Ms Hagan said there were worse forms of child labour which were hidden from the public eye, among which were slavery, practised particularly in the fishing industry, child domestic servitude, child in prostitution, illegal mining, drug peddling, pick-pocketing and child trafficking.

She said child labour created a vulnerable population that had no employable skills and therefore could not be gainfully employed; saying out of frustration they could become armed robbers.

The National Project Co-ordinator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), Mr Eric Okrah said the ILO Convention 182 dealing with child labour which Ghana had ratified, required the country to take comprehensive measures to prevent the engagement of children in Worse Forms of Child Labour (WFCL).

He said the Convention required the country to come out with Time-Bound Programmes (TBP) for the elimination of WFCL. Mr Okrah said for the country to implement the TBP, a lot of consultation had taken place and a lot of research had been conducted to enable the stakeholders to effectively understand the root causes of child labour to come out with effective programmes to reduce its occurrence.

The Eastern Regional Co-ordinator of Ghana National Commission on Children, Mr Anthony Dontoh, said his office had undertaken a tour of some communities in the Asuogyaman District noted for child labour like Kodikope, Abume, Small London and Mpaproase to conduct public forums to educate those, who engaged the children in child labour of its dangers. He said his organisation had collected a lot of data on people engaged in child trafficking and those engaging their own children in WFCL.

Mr Dontoh said the GNCC, in collaboration with other organisations, was engaged in supporting activities for mothers to enable them to improve upon their economic situation to withdraw their children from engaging them in WFCL and sending them to school.

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