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04.10.2005 General News

Over one million Ghanaian children engaged in child labour

By GNA
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Tamale, Oct. 4, GNA - More than 1,000,000 Ghanaian children are engaged in child labour, the majority of them under 13 years of age. They are engaged in such labour as stone cracking, sand winning, fishing, street hawking, farming, fishing, forestry, livestock rearing, drug peddling, domestic work and prostitution.

Mr Emmanuel Otoo, Country Programme Coordinator on capacity building project of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), announced this at a workshop organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in Tamale on Monday. The workshop is aimed at mainstreaming child labour issues into the training programmes of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), to address challenges facing the urban informal sector. Participants at the workshop were made up of project officers, regional managers and trainers of the IPEC and the NBSSI.

Among other things, the workshop seeks to contribute to the elimination of child labour in the informal sector, to strengthen the capacity of the NBSSI to adequately mainstream child labour issues in its policies.

It is also intended to upgrade the skills of project officers, trainers, regional managers, as well as resource persons of the NBSSI to effectively revise their training packages to address child labour issues in the informal sector.

Mr Otoo said most of the children engaged in labour were in agriculture, hunting and forestry, with an estimated 242,074 of them engaged in hazardous work.

He noted, however, that there were regional disparities in the prevalence of child labour with the Upper West Region recording the lowest incidence of 19.7 per cent and the Western Region recording the highest of 47.6 per cent.

Mr Otoo said most of the child labour situations in Ghana were linked to internal trafficking with the worst forms dominant in the rural areas.

The Programme Coordinator said children engaged in the worst forms of labour could be found in hazardous working environment, which exposed them to injuries, toxic substances, sexual abuse violence and even death.

He attributed the rising incidence of child labour to parental neglect, saying: "Over 91 per cent of parents of child labourers are alive, which indicates that neglect of parental responsibility is a major cause of child labour".

Alhaji Iddrissu Adam, Acting Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive said the Assembly in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment was providing both formal and informal education to about 75 children under a community based poverty reduction programme in the metropolis.

He said the project also provided skills training to 500 unemployed youth to insulate them from exploitative labour with the objective of re-integrating them into their families and communities. Alhaji Adam urged the Department of Social Welfare and the Labour Department to live up to their responsibilities by protecting the rights of children.

Mr Sylvester Gabianu, IPEC-ILO Process Facilitator and Dr Erica D. Dickson, a General Medical practitioner and a clinical psychologist, took the participants through topics such as: "Child labour in the informal sector", "The relationship between child labour and business growth" and "The physical and psychological impact of abuse in child labour".

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