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General News Wed, 23 Mar 2005

ILO holds mid-term review on child labour

Accra, March 23, GNA - An International Labour Organisation (ILO) capacity building project on child labour has identified the lack of adequate classroom blocks in child labour endemic areas as major setback in efforts to rescue the children.

The setback is against the Free, Compulsory, and Universal Basic Education Programme of the Ghana Education Service (GES) for all children of school-going age, and the constitutional provision of the District Assemblies to put up a school in communities, five kilometres from each other, which did not have a public school, but had 30 or more children who are not in classroom.

An evaluation report of the Project, being executed by the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), has therefore, recommended the provision of capital investments in buildings or school infrastructure to increase the efficiency of the Project to rescue the children.

The recommendations were made during a discussion at a mid-term review and sustainability workshop on the Project, held in Accra on Wednesday. The workshop was attended by the implementing agencies, comprising Government sector organisations, the Ghana Employers Association (GEA), the Trades Union Congress and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's). The workshop noted that a number of districts had not set up the social services committees and child panels as mandated in Act 560.

Dr Stephen Ayidiya, Head of the Department of Social Work, University of Ghana, in an intervention urged the implementing partner to use the Project as a leverage to ask the District Assemblies to establish schools to contain the rescued children.

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Parents and guardians of the rescued children could pay the minimum government fees rather than be scared to return their children into strenuous child labour.

The three-year CBP, which had been running for two years now, was aimed at rescuing 2000 child labourers in fishing, stone quarries, mining and domestic labour from each of five core countries namely Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, and as well as identify share experience on child labour and good practice interventions with four non-core countries of Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania.

Under the Project, governments, workers', employers' organizations, and other partners would have the technical skills and organisational capacity to formulate and implement policies, programmes and other initiatives to facilitate the prevention of the worst forms of child labour.

Dr Stephen Ayidiya, Head of the Department of Social Work, University of Ghana, in an intervention urged the implementing partners to use the Project as a leverage to demand the District Assemblies to establish schools to contain the rescued children.

Parents and guardians of the rescued children could pay the minimum government fees rather than be scared to return their children into strenuous child labour, by the exorbitant fees from private schools. Participants also condemned the use by the school system of pupils on hard work in sourcing income.

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Madam Marilyn Amponsah Annan, Head International Desk of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs, noted that traditional beliefs and practices that saw nothing wrong in engaging children in strenuous work appeared to be interfering with efforts to eliminate child labour.

A clear line therefore, needed to be drawn between when a child was helping with work at home and child labour that tended to be exploitative.

Madam Annan called on partners of the project of child labour rescue mission to factor in the traditional beliefs of the people in their educational messages and programmes.

Mr Emmanuel Otoo, the Country Coordinator of the Capacity Building Project, said it was necessary to make child labour part of the programmes of the District Assemblies to make them sustainable. He said child labour issues would also be made part of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Source: GNA