The Tema Regional Office of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has launched this year’s World Day Against Child Labour with a call on parents and guardians not to deprive children of education.
The Day is being marked on the theme: “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour.”
The launch was done at the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Tema Industrial News Hub, as the Tema Regional Secretariat of CHRAJ is collaborating with the GNA to sensitise the public on the negative effects of child labour.
Mr John Ato Breboh, Senior Principal Investigator, CHRAJ, said children must not be deprived of education under the guise of traditionally imparting entrepreneurial skill and family trading to them.
“It is during the period of families training their children to take up their trade that they end up depriving the children of their education,” he said.
Mr Breboh said a differentiation should be made between child work and child labour explaining that even though the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 138 says children from 15 years could be engaged in work, it must be appropriate to their age as they were still young.
He said it was worrying that children, as young as five and six years, were engaged in all forms of exploitative and dangerous works, including fishing in coastal areas such as Tema Newtown.
CHRAJ was not against children helping in house chores, running errands for the family or selling provisions at home, but any form of work that might affect their health, education, and physical development was against Ghana and international laws, he said.
Mr Breboh spoke against children being asked to sell alcoholic beverages in bars as it was against their moral development.
He said domestic servitude was another worrying trend in the country, as people brought children from the rural areas under the pretence of enrolling them in schools only to turn them into maids.
Such wards ended up being used as hawkers, waiters and waitresses in bars to support the family while the children of their masters received the needed education.
Madam Fatimata Mahami, CHRAJ Tema Regional Director, said child labour was tantamount to slavery as it threatened the health, education and development of the child in diverse ways.
Citing the 2014 Ghana Living Survey by the Ghana Statistical Service, she said 21.8 per cent of persons between five and 17 years were engaged in child labour in Ghana.
She said that was endemic in the rural areas than the urban as the statistics showed a prevalence rate of 30.2 per cent and 12.4 per cent, respectively.
Madam Mahami mentioned small-scale mining, quarrying, head potting, commercial sex exploitation, cocoa and other cash crops farming, and fishing, among others, as some work that child labourers were engaged in.
The causes of child labour included poverty and economic issues, rural-urban migration, socio-cultural, ethnic violence, outmoded harmful cultural practices, and discriminatory inheritance patterns, she said.
Mrs Elorm Kupomey, an Investigator at CHRAJ, said it was about time the country became sensitive to Children’s issues and protect their rights and development.
Mr Francis Ameyibor, Tema Regional Manager, GNA, in a welcome address, said media practitioners must lead the campaign against child labour and
pledged the Agency’s support to sensitising the public on child-labour-related issues and their effects.