EDoward stupidThe principal of a school in the Kono district, next to Sierra Leone’s largest gold mine, recalls having to sell school books to pay for the roof. He believes that 80% of the 700 children aged 4 to 13 who take care of him are working. Most of the effort occurs in mines and farms. Working children are easy to find. They have less energy. They can’t concentrate. They have health problems. Recently, a child from a nearby school was killed in a mud slide in a mine. “Everyone knows that mining isn’t for kids,” says Fool.
Most people will agree. But the experience of Mr. Fool’s students is not as unusual as they would expect. Recent report by UNICEF, United NationsInstitutions for children, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) States that between 2016 and 2020, the number of working children around the world increased to 160 million for the first time since 2000, with all net increases in sub-Saharan Africa. discovered. On the continent, more than one-fifth of children, or about 87 meters, work. Worryingly, the numbers do not indicate the effect of covid-19. This is almost certainly driving more children to work due to school closures and rising poverty. In the Central African Republic, a survey of 102 diamond mines found a 50% increase in the number of workers under the age of 15 between 2019 and 2020.
At a quarry on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the Ottoman frame is muscular beyond the typical 12-year-old frame. He wants to be a doctor, but now he spends four hours a day crushing rocks into gravel. The work gave him wounds and wheals. NS ILO We believe that about 39 million African children are engaged in equally dangerous jobs such as fishing and mining.
Sometimes the job is even more exploitative. Rural children are often sent to cities for education from their parents, but are only worked by relatives, acquaintances, or criminal organizations. From there, it could be a “slippery slope” to trafficking and other forms of abuse, says James Liac, who works in Freetown. goal, Irish NGO. From Zambia to Nigeria, millions of children as old as domestic servants are struggling. In Nairobi, where “house help” is common, child labor is one of the most common problems cited by those who call Kenya’s national child helpline.
But sometimes work benefits children, some scholars claim. Jim Samberg of the University of Sussex Development Institute thinks of a child who works an hour on his parents’ farm before school. This is typical given that 70% of child laborers work on farms.It may tire him, and he may use a hoe, and it ILO Under the definition of “worst form of child labor,” a category that includes child labor and prostitution, it is considered dangerous and therefore mass. If he still wasn’t working, the whole family could be hungry.
Other experts are worried that well-meaning intervention can make things worse for children. They point to an enthusiastic international campaign to eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry, even though 94% of children in the cocoa industry work for their parents and relatives.Criminalizing child labor is a raid on the community NGOAs is often the case in Ghana, children are taken away from cocoa plantations and remote fishing villages. Samuel Okia of the University of Bristol argues that “taking a child out of the family or actually stopping the child from working is not a solution at all.” “Not all working children can be placed in an orphanage.”
The African Working Children and Youth Movement, a type of child labor union operating in 27 countries, says its members have no choice but to work. Instead of outlawing labor, it demands better protection for child laborers.
Such views have been strongly criticized by governments and international organizations. The idea that two rights standards are needed, one for wealthy children and the other for poor children, is “a bit strange,” said child labor expert Benjamin Smith. ILO.. Others hesitate to undermine the great progress made by providing free education to children across the continent. Even if the quality is poor, it gives children the opportunity to improve their lots, says Sabero Mbokaji of the African Union.
There is little disagreement about what is driving the increase in child labor. “It’s not a big mystery. Poverty is the main root cause,” says Smith.Studies cited by ILO A percentage point increase in poverty in a country suggests an increase in child labor by at least 0.7 percentage points.
In Ecuador, cash transfers have been effective in getting children to go to school or out in the field. By investing in schools, teachers and resources, it is worth attending school in the eyes of students and parents. Opportunities for mothers will also make a difference. “I didn’t choose this for the kids,” says Mabinty Dukuray, who works in the quarry with her six kids. She and other women say the money to start their own business, such as street stalls and beauty salons, will allow children to quit their jobs. Mohammed Jarrow, who is developing such a plan in Kono, says that some women may want to grow vegetables.
But so far, few poor children and their parents have access to such plans. Hawa and her 10-year-old daughter are among the dozens of people sifting Kono’s red clay pool in the hope of hitting gold. Hawa has four older children, but only her daughter has agreed to help in the mine. Their family name is stupid. Even the principal’s daughter works in the mine. ■■
This article was published in the printed Middle East and Africa section under the heading “All Work and No Play”.
Why the number of working children is increasing
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