The National Commission for Civic Education on Thursday launched an awareness campaign and public education in forty cocoa growing communities across the country as part of its effort to eliminate child labour.

The initiative, which is being undertaken with support from the International Labour Organisation, is aimed at complementing ongoing programmes being implemented by various stakeholders to eliminate child labour practices in the cocoa industry.

It is the second time that the NCCE is working with the ILO to raise awareness about child labour issues after past programmes in the mining and fishing industry.

Speaking at a media launch and roundtable discussion to enhance effective delivery and smooth implementation of the project, Mrs Augustina Akumanyi, Deputy Chairman of Operations, expressed unhappiness that several years after the promulgation of the Children?s Act, dangerous labour practices involving children continue to hold sway.

She said while not all work could be said to be child labour, those that prevented children from accessing education to improve their lives should be frowned upon.

Mrs Akumanyi said in raising the awareness it was important to tell parents about the importance of education on the lives of their children, saying that education was the only key that could lift them out of poverty, which is often cited by parents for the practice.

She said child labour was not a progressive practice and was putting the country?s image in bad light.

Mr Steven McClelland, Technical Advisor ILO, said while the country had a very good law to prevent child labour, their implementation was weak.

Mr McClelland said the high percentage of children between the ages of 5 and 14 engaged in employment as shown by the 2010 population and housing census did not augur well for the country.

The census shows that 677,000 of children between 5 and 14 out of 6 million were employed within the Northern Region, Upper West, Upper East and Brong-Ahafo accounting for the greater percentage of children in work.

He said all those children needed to be in school instead of working, adding that despite the reasons such as family poverty, lack of good schools, criminal trafficking, cultural acceptance and ignorance of the damage of child labour often cited for the persistence of the practice, it was important to fight it nationwide.

Mr McClelland expressed the hope that the collaboration with the NCCE would help dispel ignorance about the practice and equip community leaders with the basic facts to carry on the fight to eliminate child labour nationwide

He said NCCE was a key element of the social protection system and ILO looked forward to partnering in the endeavour.

Barnett Quaicoo, the Moderator of the discussion, said there was the recognition in the country that child labour practices were illegal and infringed on the right of the child.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is currently supporting the Ghana Government in its efforts to eliminate child labour through a new project dubbed ?The Cocoa Community Project? (CCP).

Source: GNA

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