The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) joins the world today to mark the World Day Against Child Labour on the theme ‘COVID-19: Protect Children from Child Labour’. The virtual commemoration of this day offers a pivotal platform tohighlight fundamental issues of child labour, as well as fast-track, efforts to engage parents, guardians, communities and governments to take action on working together to eliminate Child Labour from our society.
The prevalence of Child Labour in the world today and the report by the Organisation of International Labour (ILO) that over 152 million children between the ages of 5-17 are in child labour, with almost half of them, 72 million being in hazardous child labour is worrying. Even more disturbing is the fact that child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), including fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, with 17% of the child labour cases being in the services industry; and another 12% trapped in the industrial sector, including mining.
Interestingly, progress made against child labour in Africa appears to have taken a snail pace as a recent global estimates of Child Labour suggests that 72.1 million African Children are in child labour with 31.5 million doing hazardous work. Correspondingly,
Ghana’s Labour Standard Survey also post that some 1.9 million children (21.8 %), mostly between the ages of five and 17 years were engaged in child labour.
As important leaders of the future, every child’s life is precious to our development, and we cannot allow them to continue suffering under the yoke of child labour. That is the more reason why the NCCE holds the conviction that the safety and protection of every Ghanaian child should be everyone’s concern.
The Commission is concerned about the impact the COVID-19 health crisis is having on the economy, the labour markets and educational sector as well as the effect on people’s livelihoods and on the lives of children. Undeniably, the situation where schools are no longer in session, even increases the risk of our children suffering from Child Labour.
Indeed, in the African and Ghanaian context, not every work done by children is classified as child labour that needs to be targeted for elimination. Children undertaking household chores, or assisting in a family business and earning pocket money outside school hours and during holidays which does not affect their health, education and personal development, is generally not considered as child labour.
Although, Ghana’s COVID-19 case count has shot past 10,000, with a relatively low death rate, it is a fact that of the 48 death, a nine year old was among them. This means, everybody, including our children is at risk. With these concerns, the NCCE passionately appeals to all parents and guardians to encourage their children to protect themselves by observing the safety protocols.
The Commission also entreats every child to stay strong, protect themselves by observing the mandatory physical distance in public, washing their hands regularly with soap under running water, regularly sanitise their hands with sanitizers, cover their mouths with tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of` the tissue immediately, or sneeze on their bent elbows, as well as avoid touching their faces and wear face mask when going out.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, the NCCE equally support efforts to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”.
The Commission reechoes the provisions of Article 15 (1) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the 1992 Constitution, Article 28 (2) that “Every child has the right to be protected from engaging in work that constitutes a threat to his health, education or development.”
The NCCE urges all stakeholders, parents and people of goodwill to work together to promote greater care for our children, by stepping up efforts to eliminate child labour, ending any abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children. In fact, it is in our utmost interest to stamp out child labour especially during this COVID-19 era from our society and to preserve the well-being of every child.