Contextualise child labour for suitable actions

Yesterday, the Ghanaian Times published a story on child labourin some cocoa communities in seven regions of the country, namely Ahafo, Bono, Ashanti, Eastern, Central, Western and Western North. 

The story is based on a document, Child Labour Monitoring Report, put together by Child Rights International (CRI), a non-governmental organization (NGO), following a survey it conducted from August 2020 to December 2021in the seven regions.

The report contains statistics, which, for instance, provides the information that a total of 33,180 children from the cocoa communities in the country are at risk of becoming child labourers, with the distribution being 64.1 per cent males and 35.9 per cent females.

The 60-page report provides such classifications as children engaged in child labour, hazardous child labour, children at risk of child labour and those engaged in worst form of child labour and provides their age range as 5-17 years.

Also of significance is the fact that the children undertake both economic and non-economic activities that adversely affect them in terms of their health, safety, welbeing and education.

Over the years the CRI has run advocacy against child labour but the ‘problem’ persists.

Therefore, the NGO can do the public a lot of good if, as part of its annual survey, it can find out why the problem persists and incorporate the reasons in its reports.

This is important because it is obvious that some of the instances described as child labour will not pass as such.

It is indisputable that in the Ghanaian cultural milieu, some of the labour activities children undertake are part of their training towards independent adult life.

A good number of people occupying responsible positions in the country would, for instance, tell you while they were children, they accompanied their fathers, uncles, mothers and other family members to the farm to weed, harvest firewood or carry food home for sale and for consumption; while others went fishing or hawking some wares.

Sometimes, the influence or impositionof the metropolitan countries would persuade others to pander to their whims and caprices.

The Ghanaian Times believes that certain things are universal and as do not breed controversy and those things can easily be tackled and resolved by the society.

For instance, it is completely human rights abuse if certain tasks assigned children can make them sick, deny them the opportunity to go to school or put them in certain bad light.

In such situations, the relevant law must be applied rather than throwing out annual reports which lack cultural basis and thus ignore the benefits of cultural initiations in the country, including orientating young members of the society about the need for every responsible person to work.

The CRI must understand that if it ignores all this in its reports, which come into the virtual space once launched, they are unintendedly soiling Ghana’s name as a country that does not care about its children.

The age range of 5-17 year-olds being involved in child labour is sad enough but sadder, considering the fact that children as young as five to 12 years old are made to work.

This is an instance of child abuse and a great error that must not be countenanced by anyone.

That is not to say that those aged 13 to 17 can go on in child labour.

It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has just formulated a draft on public-private framework for joint action to eliminate child labour from cocoa growing areas.

This is long overdue so it should hasten the process and stop the problem.

There is the need to contextualise child labour in the country and address it appropriately.

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