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01.02.2006 General News

Workshop on child labour opens

By GNA

Accra, Feb. 1, GNA - Education and skills training have been recognised as a strategy to address youth unemployment and to combat the worst forms of child labour, Dr Charles Brempong-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Manpower Youth and Employment, said on Wednesday.

He said this could be achieved by equipping the youth in the informal sector with employable skills adding that the youth had been a chronic problem for successive governments in Ghana.

Mr Brempong-Yeboah was speaking at a two-day consultative workshop with stakeholders on the improvement of vocational skills training and apprenticeship programmes as a means of fighting child labour in the country.

About 35 participants would attend the workshop, which intends to set up the fundamental principles and building blocks for the sharing and acceptance of roles and responsibilities towards the design of the strategy to upstream vocational skills.

He said a survey conducted in 2001 showed that 1,273,000 children between five years and 17 years were found to be in child labour with the majority doing hazardous work as defined by 1998 Children's Act. He said further analysis of the survey including all children aged 13 years to 15 years having worked for pay, profit and family gain during the last days preceding the survey resulted in a total of 1,984,107 working children.

He said the effective transformation of the traditional apprenticeship system into a more structured system should be worked out, as the formal educational system alone could not be expected to absorb the youth, who completed basic education.

It was in this vein that the Ministry had put in the offing a National Youth Employment Programme the purpose of which was to explore, recommend and provide additional employment opportunities for the youth in all districts throughout the country and thereby create conditions that would facilitate their economic empowerment.

He noted that with no access to education and skills training, a sizeable number of the youth and children were compelled to work in dangerous and exploitative conditions.

Mr Emmanuel Otoo, Country Programme Coordinator of International Labour Organisation, said the forum would also be used to discuss key elements of various interventions of apprenticeship programme as a child labour preventive strategy.

He said it would also afford stakeholders and partners the opportunity to network to ensure sharing of ideas, best practices and experiences towards effective service delivery.

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