By Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

Amarachi Grace EzeonuIt is completely unacceptable to have millions of children around the world still engaged in child labor in the 21st century. While some of these children work to support families, others have become victims of human trafficking and have ended up in slave labor. Many of these children work in very dangerous and dehumanizing conditions, with little or no hope for a future. Recent statistics by the International Labor Organization estimates that about 168 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labor. Child labor exists in many parts of the world; yet it is most prevalent in the least developed and developing countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin and South America. For many victims of child labor, the joy and freedom of childhood is stolen forever. As their counterparts are in school learning and playing, these children engaged in child labor could spend their days crawling under heavy machinery in factories or exposed to the elements while picking fruits and vegetable out in the fields.

Stop Child Labour
Often at the heart of the problem of child labor is poverty. Many parents would ordinarily want to provide the best possible opportunities in life for their children. Nevertheless, when plagued by abject poverty, these parents are forced to send the little ones to work to support the family instead. However, children must not be burdened with adult responsibility of providing for the family when they should be the ones being provided for. Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that parents or parental guardians have the responsibility to provide for the child. Furthermore, in a situation where this care is not possible, the state must assist. It is therefore, the human right of every child to be provided with health care, quality education, decent shelter, food and nutrition, and other necessities of life. Every society has a moral obligation to protect and provide for its children.

Girl child laborTo raise awareness on the issue of child labor, the International Labor Organization dedicates June 12 of every year as the World Day against Child Labor. To eradicate child labor, free, compulsory and quality education must be ensured for every child. Quality education is an antidote to poverty which in turn fuels child labor. The International Labor Organization tagged its 2015 advocacy against child labor with the phrase, “No to Child Labor, Yes to Quality Education,” and recommends the following to national governments:

  • Provide free, compulsory and quality education
  • Ensure that all girls and boys have a safe and quality learning environment
  • Provide opportunities for older children who have missed significant formal school education, including through targeted vocational training programs that offers basic educational support
  • Ensure coherence and enforcement of law on child labor and school attendance
  • Incorporate a properly trained, professional and motivated teaching force, with decent working conditions based on social dialogue
  • Protect young workers when they leave school and move into the work force, to prevent them being trapped in unacceptable forms of work

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