23 November 2012

Ghana: Don't Condemn Children to Life-Long Poverty - Labour Department

The Head of the Child Labour Unit of the Labour Department, under the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, Madam Elizabeth Akanbombire, has asked perpetrators of child labour to desist from the act, because it condemns children to life-long poverty.

According to her, although one of the causes of child labour was poverty, subjecting children to such labour only perpetuates the cycle of poverty. This was because many of the children were denied education and other possible means to change their situation.

She pointed out that a survey showed that most of the children given into child labour have both parents alive, and who are also capable of taking care of their children, but make their children go through such labour.

She said when children are withdrawn from child labour by governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations, their parents are often given assistance to take care of them. As a result, some parents also intentionally send their children into labour to get the benefit.

This situation persists because parents who send their children into labour lack an understanding that their actions foremost, affects the child and the family, she stated. "They think that not allowing children to be engaged in child labour benefits the state," she emphasised.

That was why the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was seeking a partnership with members of the media to help educate people on the subject of child labour, and expose the different kinds of child labour, as they occur in communities.

In view of this, the ILO organised a day's consultative meeting with journalists on the theme, "Child Labour in Ghana," in Accra on Friday. This was to ensure improvement in the quality and frequency of public sensitisation and awareness on child labour issues, and how the media can help in its eradication.

The Head of the Child Labour Unit said other causes of child labour include irresponsibility of parents, problems in the educational system, weak institutions such as poor working conditions of social workers, and unavailability of shelters for withdrawn children among others.

Furthermore, she noted that it was necessary for the media to help in the elimination of child labour, because of the media's agenda setting role, saying, "Whenever the media is interested in an issue, the issue gains importance in the public domain."

Additionally, the consequences of child labour affects all, because it causes underdevelopment and leave a large number of the population illiterate and without any relevant skills, she indicated.

This also leads to unemployment/underemployment, and a lack of opportunity for exploits, as well as increase in social vices, because people then resort to any means possible for survival. Child labour also poses many health hazards to the children involved, she observed.

The General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. Bright Blewu, said the subject of child labour was very important, and though there had been a lot of talk around the subject, it was now time to take bold steps to find solutions.

He noted that it was also important for journalists to renew their commitment to child labour issues to ensure a remarkable progress towards its elimination from the Ghanaian society.

According to him, the problem of child labour was inimical to human development, hence required a fierce crusade against it. This makes it necessary for institutions in the fight against child labour to help increase the interest of journalists who wish to specialise on the topic.

He urged institutions such as the ILO and the Labour Department of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to make it easy for journalists to assess information that would enable them produce quality and authoritative articles.

Also, he asked journalists to update their knowledge on child labour issues frequently, and look at the issues from the smaller perspectives, while situating it in the global contest, because child labour was an issue that affects society in diverse ways.

"There is a lot of work to be done, so arm yourselves with adequate information to be able to pursue this agenda," he noted

To be able to inform society adequately on the issue, journalists have to be acquainted with the problem, and also continually collaborate with other stakeholders, he stated, and emphasised, "to broaden the support base for the topic, you have to identify allies who can help in minimising, if not eliminating, child labour."

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