Education for Tea Pickers' Children in Sri Lanka 
Tea is the number one export of Sri Lanka, accounting for around $1.67 billion in revenue. This business creates jobs for about 5 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Tea picking includes the whole family, who often live in housing just off the plantation. As a result, access to education for the tea pickers’ children can be difficult or non-existent.

Sending kids to local schools is also not an option since most families either do not have a method of transportation, or their children are already working in the fields by the age of 13. Despite the fact that tea pickers are the skeleton of the economy, the majority of these tea workers are overworked and underpaid, meaning children often grow up in this same cycle of oppression. Two companies are trying to change this: Tea Leaf Trust and Kindernothilfe. Both are successfully paving the way for a better future by providing tea pickers’ children access to education.

Why Does Education Matter?

Education changes the lives of the people in these tea picking communities. Education can target domestic violence, hopelessness and poverty through learning skills such as professionalism and proficiency in English. By encouraging young people to be role models in their community and instilling a sense of hope and confidence in them, they are able to break out of the tea business and choose their own paths. Families in these communities view education for their children as a means to escape poverty. Without education, many children often commit suicide or self-harm. Suicide rates on plantations are the fourth highest in the world.

Tea Leaf Trust

Started in 2007, Tea Leaf Trust is a company that strives to create a way out for children living in tea picking communities. Alcoholism, malnutrition and disease/lack of sanitation surround many of these communities. Families of six to eight members must live in barrack-type homes which often have no windows and no means of ventilation. The conditions these families are living in hinders their ability to learn in school settings. The main way Tea Leaf Trust is improving conditions is by giving tea pickers’ children access to education, providing a future for both them and their families.

Tea Leaf Trust raised money to start a school to give tea pickers’ children access to education. This school, called Tea Leaf Vision, offers advanced diplomas for people who train and learn to become teachers and two-thirds go on to a university to earn their degrees or get a job off the plantation. Those enrolled in the advanced diploma allocate time to teach the English Community Programme at primary schools on the tea plantations as a part of their own schooling.

Schools in these communities are open once a week at 24 locations. Between 1,600 and 1,900 children attend these schools. These schools offer classes such as Business Studies, English Grammar and Emotional Health. Their focus is twofold: instilling a sense of value and purpose in youth through education and providing community service. Tea Leaf Trust also have plans to open a vocational center in the coming years. This will allow the students to not only learn within their community but also gain skills to move forward in their lives.

Kindernothilfe

Kindernothilfe, German for “supporting children in need,” is a company founded in Germany in 1959. Through its partnership with local NGOs, it has implemented 609 projects in 32 countries. In Sri Lanka, its focus is mainly on women and children, both of whom are often victims of violence and abuse.

Kindernothilfe wants to provide tea pickers’ children access to education. This program, founded in 2005, started its partnership with the Eksath Lanka Welfare Foundation. It now has around 80 children and 60 women enrolled in its program. This includes two children’s clubs where children grow their personal skills. The program also provides funding to children who have previously dropped out of school, allowing them to continue their education for free.

Kindernothilfe also offers an empowerment class to women in these communities. This is where they can discuss their situations, talk through how to manage their household and understand and counsel their children on domestic violence and children’s rights.

Uniformity and Equality of Education

There is a great need for quality education in Sri Lanka and not just in tea picking communities. The education sector is lacking in providing quality criteria and curriculums. Schools on plantations (if they exist at all) lack the most basic equipment and have teachers who are undereducated themselves. A reduction in poverty can be a result of proper education. Poverty is only 18 percent for those with an education, rising to 46 percent for households without an education.

Tea Leaf Trust and Kindernothilfe are just two examples of foundations that have stepped in to fill the gaps. They want to assist in providing educational assistance for those who lack it and change the lives of Sri Lankan tea picker’s children.

– Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in India
Child labor binds more than 218 million children around the globe. India has the highest number of children in the world involved in child labor, numbering 10.1 million. Between 4.5 to 5.6 million of these children are between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the 2011 census. Child labor is most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Most of these children are part of the “untouchables” caste, the lowest caste in India. Other castes shun them and they often work in occupations such as burials. Here are 10 facts about child labor in India.

10 Facts About Child Labor in India

  1. Impoverished Children: There are child labor employment agencies in India that look for children in impoverished communities. Often, floods, waterlogging or droughts plague the areas they search. A family’s survival may depend upon their children going to work.
  2. Unregulated Work: Child laborers in India work under the table. The establishments where children work are unregulated. Because of this, employed children do not reap the benefits of child labor laws and other governmental laws that govern the workplace. The children often work from 9 in the morning until 11 or 12 at night. There are many workplaces where the children only get the opportunity to bathe once or twice a week.
  3. Child Labor Reduction: The Indian government says the child labor market has seen a 64 percent decrease between 2005 and 2010. According to the country’s labor ministry, 4.6 million children were working in 2011 verses the 12.6 million a decade earlier. Unfortunately, this is the most recent data, as there has not been a national child labor count since 2011. The definition of what qualifies as child labor is also changing in India.
  4. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking plays an important role in child labor. There are two types of child trafficking: forced labor where children must leave their homes to work in mines or factories and sex trafficking, which often involves young girls. Often, there are Child Domestic Labor placement agencies that are part of this trafficking.
  5. Penalty for Child Labor: Child labor in India was not a punishable offense until a few years ago. Today, if the authorities find a person guilty of being involved in child labor in India, the penalty is a fine between $281.52 and $750.79 or imprisonment for up to two years.
  6. Types of Child Labor: Seventy percent of children involved in child labor in India work in agriculture. Most of the rest work in construction. Many children in India work in hidden workstations, employers’ homes, tiny factories or remote areas.
  7. Child Labor in Metropolitan Areas: Puja Marwaha, the chief executive of Child Rights and You, said that children have migrated to metropolitan areas of Mumbai and Delhi for work. She cited a government report which showed a 60 percent increase in the child workforce of Mumbai in the decade leading up to the census of 2011.
  8. Child Labor Ban: There have been several laws dating back to the 1930s banning child labor in India and promoting education. The Right to Education Act, enacted in 2009, required children between the ages of 6 and 14 to attend school. The Child Labor Protection Act of 1986 banned employing children under the age of 14; however, there are exceptions in the act that allowed children to work in family businesses. Because of these exceptions, critics of the act say that it allows child labor by default in Indian villages.
  9. Mica Mining: Many children involved in child labor in India work in mica mines. These mines often exist deep in the forest far from prying government eyes. The largest mica deposits are in the Kadarma district of Jharkhand province. Generally, mining is the only livelihood the families of these children have. Children also work in India’s coal mines. They are useful in the mines because they can go into holes too small for adults known as rat holes. Many children, especially those working in coal mines, have no training, protection or monetary compensation for injuries.
  10. The Bonded Labor Act: When the Bonded Labor Act releases children from child labor, they receive a certificate and compensation varying from $1,407.58 to $4,222.75. Schools or government-aided NCLP centers admit the kids for their education. If the child is 16 or 17, they receive vocational training. There are many children who were child laborers who are now lawyers or engineers.

There are international companies working toward eliminating child labor in India, including IKEA, which expanded its involvement with Save the Children to reach an additional 790,000 children in India. It also donated 7 million Euros in an effort toward this cause. Eliminating child labor in India requires improving income and education in the nation. Additionally, consumers can help by striving to only buy products that child labor did not produce.

 – Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

Poetry, one of the most ancient art forms, serves as an outlet for poets to convey their most profound emotions. Poetry is magical because it paints a picture with words and navigates the reader through a flurry of feelings. While few reach glory, many poets go unrecognized or misunderstood in their pursuits. These are four poems about poverty.

Song of the Shirt

“Work—work—work!

From weary chime to chime,

Work—work—work,

As prisoners work for crime!

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band,

Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed,

As well as the weary hand.

[…]

In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,—Would that its tone could reach the Rich!—   She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

This excerpt from the 19th-century poem by Thomas Hood talks about the labor exploitation of the middle class by the aristocracy. A woman works hard night and day, through tiredness and sickness, with dreams ranging from a simple meal to eternal prosperity. Unfortunately, she drowns in the pit of poverty and despite her efforts, is unable to climb out. This issue has spanned the centuries and labor exploitation remains a problem in the 21st century. Especially in developing countries where instances of trafficking and child labor are all too common. More than 150 million children are subjected to child labor around the world. The U.N. is currently working on enforcing appropriate legislation in countries to absolve the use of child labor.

Refugee Blues

“Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

[…]

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.”

W.H. Auden, a 20th-century poet, originally wrote this poem about the Jewish refugees who were seeking refugee status in the United States. The theme, however, extends beyond the grim years of World War II. At the end of 2018, there were roughly 71 million forcibly displaced people in the world. They were forced to leave due to conflict, violence or persecution. Many have not found homes or countries that are willing to take them in. Countries are beginning to pay attention. World leaders in the U.N. are working on implementing programs that will help refugees without disappointing host nations.

Poverty

I saw an old cottage of clay,

And only of mud was the floor;

It was all falling into decay,

And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,

In a hovel so dismal and rude;

And though gnawing hunger they felt,

They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,

And to their poor mother they’d run;

[…]

O then, let the wealthy and gay

But see such a hovel as this,

That in a poor cottage of clay

They may know what true misery is.

And what I may have to bestow

I never will squander away,

While many poor people I know

Around me are wretched as they.

This sorrowful poem written by Jane Taylor in the 19th century paints a vivid picture of the horrid conditions associated with poverty. Taylor writes about a family that lives in an unsafe cottage without an ounce of food. The children starve and beg for food that the mother is incapable of providing. As seen in this poem, poverty is an exclusively uphill battle. There are a million forces exerting pressure on the lives of the impoverished but many must keep persevering to survive.

More than 3 billion people in the world today are living on less than $2.50 per day. More than 1.3 billion are living on less than $1.25 per day. Hundreds of millions of children and adults are malnourished and do not have access to basic healthcare. While this is a depressing statistic, the rate of extreme poverty in the world has decreased in the last several decades.

Poor Children

“They are the future of humanity
But many of them living in poverty
And without shelter homeless on the street
Searching through rubbish bins for scraps of food to eat.
Poor children are victims of circumstance
In life they never really get a chance
Or have opportunities as privileged children do
The road from the poor suburb to prison leads them to.

[…]
Poor children without homes and sleeping rough
And life for them already hard enough
At the wrong end of the social divide
Any chance of a good future to them is denied.”

This poem by Francis Duggan, while relatively recent compared the other poems on this list of four poems about poverty, speaks volumes about the struggles associated with child poverty. Roughly one billion children are currently living in poverty and according to UNICEF; approximately 22,000 children die daily due to poverty. A pattern of malnutrition and disease weakens the body to a point of no return. Coupled with the social repercussions of impoverishment, the odds of survival are slim. A recent study revealed that children who succumbed to childhood poverty were seven times more likely to harm themselves and 13 times more likely to engage in violent crime than their more affluent counterparts.

These four poems about poverty are quite striking. They convey deep emotions and spread ideas that have been prevalent for generations. Poverty is not skin-deep; the consequences of impoverishment extend to all elements of life. It is vital that people take action against poverty by reaching out to elected officials who have the ability to implement legislation that aids those in dire need.

Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in Myanmar
Myanmar was a prosperous country at the beginning of the 1960s. However, when Myanmar came under the rule of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011, it became one of the world’s poorest nations. Many considered the former military regime in Myanmar to be one of the most oppressive and abusive regimes in the world, committing serious human rights and humanitarian law violations against civilians, including women and children. Child labor is one of the prevalent issues that the government is trying to tackle, but it remains common in Myanmar.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that negatively affects children’s mentality, physicality or morality and interferes with their schooling. The worst forms of child labor include slavery, sexual exploitation, illicit activities or work that by nature is likely to harm the health, morals or safety of children.

Despite the new government body’s attempt to eradicate child labor, it remains a huge challenge in Myanmar due to its limited resources. Here are 10 facts about child labor in Myanmar.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Myanmar

  1. Child Labor: A 2015 survey estimated that 1.13 million children ages 5 to 17 in Myanmar, or 9.3 percent of the child population, were in child labor. The number in Myanmar is higher than the Asian average, which estimates determine to be 7.4 percent. Among these Myanmar child laborers, over half engaged in hazardous work that may cause harm to their physical, mental or moral development.
  2. Minimum Working Ages: Myanmar law defines the minimum age for work as 14 for certain sectors, but there is no minimum age for work for all sectors. The Myanmar Labor Force Survey 2015 estimates that 60.5 percent of child laborers work in the agricultural sector, which does not have a minimum age for work. The other sector that the majority of child labor occurs is in the manufacturing sector.
  3. School: Myanmar law made school free and obligatory for children only up to age 10. This leaves the children ages 10 to 13 the most vulnerable to child labor since they have neither legal permission to work nor the requirement to go to school.
  4. Army Recruitment: The Myanmar government has made some efforts to eradicate the worst forms of child labor. However, the government officials are complicit in the use of child labor through forced recruitment of children into its national armed force in conflict areas. Despite 18 being the legal minimum age for enrollment in the army, people often coerce children as young as 14 to work in the army as combatants, messengers or domestic workers.
  5. The Economy: The transition from a military-ruled nation to a democratic regime in 2011 has helped the economy expand quickly. When people have more disposable income, the demand for services rises and pushes the demand for more labor. On the other hand, this economic boom partly fueled the crisis of child labor as companies and industries increased in the exploitation of cheap child labor to reduce cost. For example, food establishments only have to pay child workers $0.3 an hour compared to $0.43 for an adult.
  6. My-PEC: In response to child labor in Myanmar, the U.S. Department of Labor funded the ILO’s Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (My-PEC), a four-year project spanning from 2014 to 2017. The project aimed to reduce child labor in Myanmar by expanding the knowledge and awareness of child labor, improving laws and capacity to meet international standards, strengthening the capacity through advocacy and networking as well as implementing pilot interventions in target communities.
  7. Street Kids: The government has realized the need to increase the capacity of the educational system and opportunities for children, but the changes are gradual. Some NGOs have stepped up to provide scholarships and free schooling to help child workers. Scholarships for Street Kids, a local NGO, provides educational opportunities for children and also compensates the family for the lost earnings while their children are in school. The program has helped around 300 children.
  8. Myanmar Mobile Education Project (myME): Myanmar Mobile Education Project is a social project that emerged in 2014, and is the first to provide non-formal education for child laborers. The innovative project converts local tea shops and buses into mobile classrooms to bring education directly to the children. Since its inception, myME has benefited approximately 10,000 working and out-of-school children.
  9. The Myanmar Government’s Actions: The Myanmar government has ratified the ILO Conventions on the minimum age and the worst forms of child labor. It is in the process of finalizing its National Action Plan (NAP) on Child Labor, including the list of hazardous jobs that the Convention requires. In February 2018, the government established the National Committee for the Eradication of Child Labor to ensure the implementation of NAP.
  10. The ILO: The ILO is working to attain its Sustainable Development Goal targets of ending child labor by 2025 and securing safe working environments for all workers by 2030. It aims to achieve these goals through My-PEC, the [email protected] and the Youth4OSH projects. The Myanmar government is also working toward its own objective of protecting and preventing all children from child labor, especially the worst forms by 2030.

Since the transition to a new government in 2011, Myanmar’s human rights records have been improving. Although child labor is still prevalent in Myanmar due to poverty as well as cultural norms, the government is taking steps to address this issue with the collaboration of the ILO and various NGOs.

These 10 facts about child labor in Myanmar highlight some of the challenges facing the government, but also many great potentials to eradicate child labor in Myanmar through national and international efforts to ensure better lives and rights for the children of this Asian nation.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

 

Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa with a population of nearly 114 million. While Ethiopia has a deep-rooted history as Africa’s oldest sub-Saharan state, it also has a long track record of devastating poverty. Financial instability has led many families to rely on their children for work, and this has put Ethiopia on the map for having one of the most catastrophic child labor problems in the world. To develop solutions to this persistent problem, it is important that people raise awareness. Here are the top 10 facts about child labor in Ethiopia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia

  1. Child Labor Rate: According to USAID, nearly 27 percent of Ethiopia’s youth population participates in the labor force. Ethiopia is one of many African countries suffering from widespread child labor, with the African region accounting for the highest rate of child labor in the world. The Internal Labour Organization blames these high levels of child labor on continued economic and political turmoil.
  2. World Vision Ethiopia and Education Centers: Fortunately, child labor in Ethiopia has been steadily decreasing over the last two decades. A study found that the percentage of child labor in Ethiopia decreased by 25 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls between 2000 and 2013. World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) is one nongovernmental organization contributing to these declining numbers by promoting education instead of child labor. Beginning in 1971, WVE has established education centers in Ethiopia, trained teachers, supported school attendance, enrolled children in vocational services and supported families savings plans to lessen the financial burden on their children. According to a WVE report, The Ethiopians Fighting Against Childhood Exploitation Project began in 2011. This project, which includes WVE and two other NGOs, targets 20,000 Ethiopian children by promoting childhood education and creating better social protections for children in Ethiopia.
  3. Unstable Education: The instability of Ethiopia’s education system makes it one of the major causes of child labor. Despite compulsory primary education and government-subsidized schooling, widespread economic hardship has led to low attendance rates and a lack of resources. With no quality education to turn to, vulnerable children often resort to child labor to lend financial support to their families.
  4. Demographics in Child Labor: The demographic breakdown of child labor in Ethiopia shows the lowest rate for children ages 5-9, with 48 percent of them working in the labor force. This percentage jumps to 72 percent for children ages 10-14 and 75 percent for children ages 15-17. Despite the large percentage differences between age brackets, the difference between genders is only 3 percent.
  5. The Ethiopian Government’s Efforts: In 2018, Ethiopia’s government took further steps to mitigate child labor by working with international and non-governmental organizations to combat disparities in educational resources and government oversight. Programs focused on smuggling, sex-trafficking, forced labor and children’s rights are among the new government initiatives to curtail child labor. In the same year, the National Child Policy made it onto the national agenda, offering major reforms that would commit the government, “to sustain its commitment to respect, protect and fulfill children’s rights and enhance the family and community’s role in the healthy growth and personality development of children.” While the Ethiopian government has not signed this legislation into law, the movement behind the policy is quickly gaining traction with those committed to eliminating child labor.
  6. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking is a common practice in Ethiopia, responsible for forcing children into domestic and sex work. This practice, prominent in the Capital, Addis Ababa, has seen people sell 20,000 children into the trafficking industry despite laws that prohibit the practice. The lack of enforcement involving the investigation and prosecution of child-trafficking perpetrators is the primary reason that these abuses persist.
  7. The International Labour Organisation (ILO): In 2003, Ethiopia ratified a convention that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposed, a United Nations Agency that dedicates itself to prohibiting and eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The convention, which recognizes poverty and inadequate education as significant barriers to eliminating child labor, led Ethiopia to distribute textbooks and build primary schools. A report by the United States Department of Labor describes Ethiopia’s progress as a “moderate advancement,” noting that, while there are still steps that Ethiopia needs to take, this is the beginning of a necessary solution.
  8. Types of Labor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, cattle, gold and hand-woven textiles are among the most common goods that child labor in Ethiopia produces. The children participating in manufacturing textiles and gold are most prominent in urban areas, while those working in cattle herding and production are the most prominent in rural areas. In fact, cattle and farming account for 89 percent of child labor in rural areas, according to the International Labour Organisation.
  9. Hazardous Working Conditions: A study that the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) conducted reported that children in Ethiopia spent, on average, 41.4 hours a week in working conditions declared that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared hazardous. The ILO defines Hazardous work as, “work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children.” The CSA concluded that this work has had detrimental effects on children’s health and school attendance in Ethiopia.
  10. A Top Country for Child Labor: According to the Maplecroft Child Labor Index, Ethiopia ranks fourth behind Bangladesh, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo on a list of the top 10 worst countries for child labor. While this number is more than devastating, the researchers who determine this ranking explain that the numbers do not include the thousands of unseen, uncounted child laborers. This gives the world an even greater reason to help bring awareness and solutions to the child labor problem plaguing Ethiopia.

While these facts about child labor in Ethiopia show that child labor has left an indelible mark on the country, new government reforms can undo much of the previous damage. The goal for future generations of Ethiopian children to live fulfilled lives that emphasize childhood education rather than childhood labor is now a real possibility.

– Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Child Labor in Kenya
According to UNICEF, a child laborer is a child who is too young to work or one who is involved in hazardous activities that could compromise their physical, mental, social and educational development. In Kenya, the Employment Act 2007 and the Children Act define a child as any person below the age of 18 years. Section 56 of the Employment Act makes it illegal to employ children under the age of 13. Children between the ages of 13 to 16 can be employed in “light work” while those between 16 and 18 are considered employable. Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about child labor in Kenya.

7 Facts About Child Labor in Kenya

  1. Farming, sand harvesting, drug peddling, street hawking, domestic work and sex work are the most common industries where child labor is present in Kenya. The commercial sexual exploitation of children tends to be more prevalent in tourism-heavy areas which include the capital city — Nairobi — and the coast.

  2. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most child laborers in Kenya (including those who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation) are girls. However, boys are also involved. Overall, 35.6 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 engage are considered child laborers.

  3. Lack of education is one of the causes of child labor in Kenya. Primary education is free and mandatory but some parents are often unable to afford books, uniforms and other learning materials. Furthermore, 40 percent of those who complete primary school do not transition to secondary school, leaving many children at risk of exploitation. In 2018, the government began rolling out free secondary education for all Kenyans which will hopefully help curb this obstacle.

  4. Several laws protect children from child labor in Kenya including the Employment Act 2007. The Children’s Act says that children should be protected from economic exploitation, any work that interferes with their education, and work that is harmful to a child’s health or social, mental, physical and spiritual development. Additionally, the law mandates that no child shall be recruited in armed conflicts.

  5. Kenya has ratified several international conventions that are aimed at protecting children from exploitation. These include Minimum Age, Worst Forms of Child Labour, Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict, and the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. However, Kenya is yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography which leaves children vulnerable to sex work.

  6. While some people may argue that child labor is beneficial to the economy because it raises a family’s income, this is hardly true. It harms the country’s economy in the long run as children are denied the opportunity to an education which could give them skills useful for getting a better job in the future.

  7. The government is doing its part in trying to end child labor in Kenya. In 2018, they increased the number of labor inspectors as well as the number of inspections conducted. The government also operates an emergency, toll-free child hotline to report instances of child abuse, including child labor. Organizations such as Save the Children and the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect are also helping out.

The government can help speed up the eradication of child labor in Kenya by subsidizing the cost of books, uniforms and other fees to ensure that all children can attend school. Additionally, there is a need to ensure that laws explicitly define and set parameters for what children can and cannot do. Finally, the government can ensure that the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services have sufficient financial and human resources to address child labor violations.

– Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in Africa
Many are moving to eradicate child labor in Africa by 2025. According to The International Labor Organization of the United Nations (ILO), child labor defines any hazardous work depriving children of their childhood and their education. Africa is the continent with the highest child labor rates at 72.1 million children to date. However, it has also seen an increase in awareness and a shift toward eradicating the practice. Below are 10 facts about child labor in Africa and the progress people are making to eradicate it.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Africa

  1. Eradicating Child Labor: One in five children is employed against their will in quarries, farms and mines. However, efforts to eradicate child labor have been valiant in areas such as building schools, supporting agricultural cooperatives, advising farmers on better production methods and paying farmers more for production.
  2. Child Labor End Date: Sub-Saharan Africa employs 59 million children between the ages of 5 and 17, according to the ILO. Eradication initiatives such as Alliance 8.7 proposed 2025 as the desired end date of child labor in Africa. For example, Uganda, Tanzania and Togo have made progress by training 25 child ambassadors and providing education to child labor employers on the negative impacts of employing children.
  3. Hazardous Work: In Africa, 31.4 million children are in hazardous work including forced labor, prostitution and working in mines. There are 168 million children globally in farm labor, 98 million in agriculture and 12 million in manufacturing. The largest commodities that child labor produces are gold, tobacco, banana, sugarcane, cotton, rubber and cocoa.
  4. The Cocoa Industry: In 2015, the U.S. Labor Department reported that over 2 million children worked on cocoa farms in West Africa. Chocolate companies like Mars, Hershey and Nestle have signed a deal to end the use of child labor in their chocolate production. Additionally, Fairtrade America offered farmers more money for certified cocoa, cocoa that farmers produce without child labor, to prevent child labor and alleviate poverty.
  5. The Harkin-Engel Protocol: According to Fairtrade and World Bank, farmers in Africa receive $1,900 and that amount is well below the poverty line for a typical family. Moreover, 60 percent lack access to electricity and UNESCO states that the literacy rate is only 44 percent. The Ivory Coast signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol to monitor and account for people involved in child trafficking, and eliminate child labor in the cocoa industry.
  6. Child Labor and Crises: Countries experiencing crises have the highest number of child laborers. These countries might experience challenging circumstances such as unemployment, lack of social services and extreme poverty. Alliance 8.7 elects the efforts and focus that delegates of the African Union, U.N. agencies and government officials’ support in combating social and economic issues.
  7. Child Labor and Family: Most child laborers do not receive pay and many often work on family-owned farms or companies because their families cannot afford to send them to school. Children often must work in communities suffering conflict, especially in the case where the main breadwinner dies. The Foreign Affairs Committee is working on legislation to address child labor and supply chains.
  8. Child Labor Ages: Fifty-nine percent of child laborers are between the ages of 5 and 11, 26 percent are between 12 and 14 and 15 percent are between 15 and 17. In a 2018 survey, a Tulane University Researcher found that people who were not the children’s parents brought at least 16,000 children to West African farms. Reports also stated that 40 percent of Burkina Faso children are without proper birth records and for that reason, no one has been able to identify them.
  9. Child Laborers Under 5-Years-Old: Child laborers under the age of 5 have also grown in number and they face hazardous work conditions as well. For example, they might spend the day doing hard manual labor such as swinging machetes, carrying heavy loads and spraying pesticides.
  10. Solutions: A better understanding of how people should implement policies and revise them are among the discussions taking place toward ending child labor. The Harkin-Engel Protocol, The United Nations, the United Kingdom Modern Act, Barack Obama’s Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, Anti-Slavery International and the African Union Action Plan are all commitments in place to end child labor and modern-day child slavery. Barack Obama’s Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act is to prevent imports from entering the U.S. that child labor has produced, while the African Union Action Plan aims to eliminate child labor in Africa altogether.

These 10 facts on child labor in Africa are examples of the progress toward eliminating child labor by 2025. Continued efforts in preserving the well being of children in Africa shows the nation’s determination in the total eradication of child laborers. Oversight and accountability will continue to play an integral part in its success.

– Michelle White
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Child Labor in Algeria

Algeria — a country characterized by political instability — has made some strides to address the worst forms of child labor. However, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), “The government has not sufficiently prohibited the use of children in illicit activities or determined by national law or regulation the types of work that are hazardous for children to perform.” Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about child labor in Algeria.

7 Facts About Child Labor in Algeria

  1. Although the legal minimum age for work eligibility is 16, 6.7 percent of children in Algeria (ages 5 to 14) are currently working. This amounts to more than 413,000 working children.
  2. While there has been no comprehensive study that provides more insight into the scope of each sector of work, it is known that children in Algeria work on farms, usually harvesting olives; in the street, vending, collecting plastics and even begging. Others perform various services for businesses and workshops and do domestic work. However, the worst type of child labor is in the form of commercial sexual exploitation that often results in human trafficking and participation in drug smuggling.
  3. Granting children access to education is known to help reduce rates of child labor. Algeria offers free public schooling for anyone with a valid birth certificate and 92.3 percent of children attend school. However, the lack of teachers trained to help with students who have disabilities and the existing stigma keep many children with disabilities from attending school. Additionally, many migrant children do not have birth certificates making them ineligible. For these reasons, both of these populations are particularly vulnerable to child labor.
  4. Child labor is often associated with immigrant communities in Algeria. Migrant children who are subject to work are primarily from the sub-Saharan region of Africa and are most likely to be forced into sexual exploitation and domestic work. Additionally, migrants from Niger are known to bring children “rented” from smuggling networks along with them while begging in the streets.
  5. Fortunately, the Algerian government recognizes this as a major problem and has been working to end child labor within their borders. In 2016 the government began a campaign titled The National Commission for the Prevention of and Fight Against Child Labor, creating radio and television programs that spread awareness about the negative effects of child labor and working to bring that message into religious sermons. The initiative also offers assistance to families in need, in the hope that lessening their financial stress will reduce the likelihood of the children being sent to work. While this campaign is a step in the right direction, there is no evidence on how effective it has been, and the Bureau of International Labor Affairs considers it to be only a “moderate advancement” along the path to end child labor.
  6. The Bureau of International Labor states that in the fight to end child labor it is essential not only to create relevant policy but also to assign the issue to a centralized government body or authority in order to stay up to date on the issue and monitor the effectiveness of the policy. Algeria has successfully done this by delegating the issue to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare’s Labor Inspection Directorate. This has resulted in advancements such as the Ministry of Labor organizing training sessions for 136 judges on the legal framework for the protection of children.
  7. The government has made a difference through policy as well with the National Action Plan for the Prevention of and Fight Against Trafficking in Persons. While this policy is more focused on the specific issue of human trafficking, this inevitably intertwined with child labor and has resulted in 79 prosecuted child labor cases.

Madeline Lyons
Photo: Flickr

Tobacco industry labour conditions
The global tobacco market accounted for $663.76 billion in 2017, and the tobacco industry is an economic sector employing millions of men and women. However, behind the scenes of the tobacco industry lies the death of 8 million people yearly, the creation of dependency and diseases for tobacco farmers, as well as extreme poverty, child labor and environmental issues. Tobacco industry labor conditions are very poor and require reform.

Tobacco Farmers

The tobacco industry controls the tobacco cycle from seed to sale and in most producing countries, tobacco companies operate in a contract system through which companies provide the inputs required–including seeds and chemicals for production–in the form of credit for farmers. Farmers agree to sell their tobacco leaf to specific companies at a set price in return. For many farmers, the revenue earned from their tobacco leaf sales barely suffices to cover their costs or repay their loans. This creates a debt cycle.

Moreover, Human Rights Watch reported labor rights abuses on large-scale tobacco farms. In Zimbabwe, some workers reported overtime and excess working hours after their employers pressured them, but they did not receive compensation for it. Other incidents and labor abuses include underpaid or delayed wages and occasionally going two months without receiving their salary, which makes it hard for workers to maintain a basic living standard.

Health Issues

Tobacco cultivation exposes workers and farmers to health hazards from pesticide exposure to nicotine poisoning. Physical contact with wet tobacco leaves causes the body to absorb nicotine leading to poisoning called green tobacco sickness (GTS). This involves symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fluctuating blood pressure and heart rate and trouble breathing, and they are quite frequent among tobacco workers.

Tobacco industry labor conditions expose workers to high amounts of pesticides which damages the human nervous system and can also cause pesticide poisoning; common symptoms include convulsions, respiratory problems, nausea, kidney damages and skin irritation. Children to have a lower intoxication threshold due to their smaller body mass and weaker immune system, which reinforces the issue of child labor in the tobacco industry.

Child Labor in the Tobacco Industry

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 108 million children work in agriculture, representing 70 percent of overall child labor. Although child employment is not easy to verify, some believe that millions work in the tobacco industry. Families living in poverty and dependent on tobacco production for a living often make their children work in tobacco farms and factories to help them. Because children start working from a very early age, they do not obtain a necessary education which could help them break away from the poverty cycle.

Child labor in the tobacco industry is prominent in India, especially in the production of Bidi. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 percent of female workers and 5 percent of male workers in the bidi industry in India are below the age of 14 and that 40 percent of those children never went to school. Besides, although child labor is illegal in India, the county cannot incriminate employers as they do not include working children officially on their payrolls.

Many companies in the tobacco industry have adopted policies prohibiting children from working in direct contact with green tobacco, which is a step forward in limiting the health risks for children working in the tobacco industry. However, none of the tobacco companies adopted policies prohibiting the involvement of children working in direct contact with tobacco (such as dry tobacco). Moreover, the tobacco industry does not have, unlike other industries, a zero-tolerance policy for child labor, despite publicly condemning it.

International Reaction

In June 2018, 130 public health and sustainable development organizations wrote a letter to the ILO urging it not to renew or extend contracts with Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco-Growing (ECLT), which is a group that the tobacco industry funds, and Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which ties the ILO to the tobacco industry. Yet, despite the recommendations from the U.N. Interagency Task Force (UNIATF), the ILO still has not cut its ties, which include funding, and its partnerships with the tobacco industry. With regards to tobacco companies, some ‘Tobacco giants’ begun reforming their practices, such as Philip Morris International who committed to eliminating child labour entirely from its supply chain by 2025, hopefully leading the way for the rest of the industry.”

Considering that one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (Target 8.7) aims to eradicate child labor in all its forms by 2025, the ILO must make it a priority and address the root causes of child labor. Besides, companies and governments must work hand in hand to increasingly adopt adequate labor policies to improve tobacco industry labor conditions, reduce the health risks workers and farmers suffer from, as well as enforce a zero-tolerance child labor policy.

Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in China
Child labor in China has influenced programs like The International Labour Organization. This organization put forward conventions 182 and 138 (1973; 1999) to eliminate child labor around the globe. Nobel Prize winners like Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi sought to focus efforts on ameliorating the risks associated with child labor; however, incidences still exist throughout the world. Presented here are 10 facts about child labor in China. It is particularly important to understand the threats that make some children more likely to be child laborers than others.

10 Facts About Child Labor in China

  1. About 8 percent of Chinese children between 10 and 15-years old work as child laborers. Children from rural areas are more likely to be child laborers. Farms need laborers and children are inexpensive to employ.
  2. A child laborer in China is any employee under 16 years. Under Chinese law, no one under the age of 16 can work and those who do employ children are breaking the law. Luckily, this trend is decreasing with the help of other legislature favoring strict policies in which the Chinese constitution intends to protect children from maltreatment.
  3. Millions of children across China are laborers. This is more common outside the cities where the population is less dense. Families migrate from the cities to rural areas for farmland, but hundreds of millions of families move from rural areas to the city and leave their children behind. Children left behind are more susceptible to become child laborers because they do not have families to protect them.
  4. Traffickers often buy child laborers who receive commissions and finders’ fees. Child labor can be a form of human trafficking where employers buy and sell children as employees. Parents sell their children to traffickers while traffickers either kidnap or lure others to drop out of school with the promise of a lucrative life. The United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons works to prevent trafficking by raising awareness of the tricks and trade techniques that traffickers use to recruit children. These methods are more appealing to children living in poverty because it involves the promise of money and resources that they could otherwise not afford.
  5. Children who drop out of school are more likely to be child laborers. When children spend less time in school, they are more likely to act out or engage in risky behaviors. Child labor in China means the children enter the workforce at a young age. Clothing and shoe manufacturers are more likely to employ child laborers and other manufacturers that benefit from using smaller hands.
  6. Child labor can occur in the home. Parents sell their children to acrobat schools, which live-stream their performances on the internet. These schools put children on display by forcing them to participate in acrobatics. The schools can gain money by selling performances online. Families who live in poverty are more likely to use this as a means of gaining money. They often do not have the skills to work well-paying jobs and thus look for ways their children can provide support.
  7. Child labor in China has made many strides. The International Labour Organization (ILO) advocated for World Day Against Child Labour, marked by June 12th, and this day brings together millions from different companies, government groups, advocacy organizations and the United Nations in order to share news about child workers. This day recognizes efforts that schools have made to improve education services, which results in fewer dropouts.
  8. Over 250 million children ages 5 to 14 years across the world are laborers and 61 percent of them live in Asia. Developing and developed nations alike attract child labor forces and child labor is, unfortunately, occurring all over the world. One can participate in Child Labour Day to raise awareness of their area about the tragedies affecting child laborers.
  9. Children whose parents have migrated are more likely to be child laborers. Migration in China typically occurs from the cities to rural areas. These migrant families can find work easier on farms or as field hands and their children can easily find similar jobs to support their families. These children are more likely to drop out of school in order to work with their families.
  10. Child labor in china is on the decline. China has passed legislation to improve working conditions and has restricted the working age. Legislation to reduce child labor includes the Chinese Labour Law, the Law on the Protection of Minors, Regulations on the Prohibition of Child Labour and the Notice on the Prohibition of Child Labour.

Child labor is not a unique phenomenon in China. Child labor occurs across the globe in both developing and developed nations. While child labor is against the law in most places, it still happens in remote areas and where the population is sparse. In China, the government is working hard to reduce the incidences of child labor. With advocacy and awareness, both China and the world should be able to make strides to end child labor.

–  Kaylee Seddio
Photo: Flickr