Children working in hazardous situation
Children working in hazardous situation

Yesterday was ‘World Day against Child Labour.’ Each year the day, which falls on June 12, is observed all over the world to raise awareness on the plight of hundreds of millions of girls and boys worldwide who are affected.

Numerous events are held around the world to mark the day and to draw attention to the problem of child labour.

Child labour is work which is likely to expose children to danger harm their health, safety or morals. Some children do harzardous work on the farm, mines (galamsey) and they are exposed to all types of weather conditions which pose hazards to them.

This year’s celebration under the theme, “No to Child Labour, Yes to Quality Education!” is therefore timely, as child labour is becoming rampant in many developing countries, especially Ghana with most children seen doing all sorts of menial jobs for survival.

Facts from International Labour Organisation

When children are exposed to work in a dangerous environment such as in a mine, they risk death or injury from tunnel collapses, accidental explosions or rock falls.

Many types of work are physically harmful to children, especially when done for long periods of time. For example, children may have to sit bent over in one position, or crawl in small spaces which can cause disfigurement, spinal injuries and difficulty walking straight.

This can be work such as sewing footballs or clothes, breaking bricks and rocks for road building, making matchsticks, crawling through a mine, making bricks. Or they may constantly be bent over from carrying loads that are too heavy.

Furthermore, child labourers are exposed to the weather (e.g. scorching hot sun, hard rain) and may not have shoes or adequate clothing. They can easily develop coughs and catch pneumonia or other illnesses.

Children are also exposed to hazardous work when the workplace is unsanitary, poorly lit and poorly ventilated. This is also true when clean drinking water, health services and schools are unavailable, especially in the more remote areas. In these conditions, children are more at risk of catching illnesses and disease.

All of these types of work interfere with a child’s education, as most children have neither the time, nor the energy, to attend school. Their families rely on the little wages the children make to survive.

On this year’s World Day Against Child Labour ILO calls for:

  • free, compulsory and quality education for all children at least to the minimum age for admission to employment and action to reach those presently in child labour;
  • new efforts to ensure that national policies on child labour and education are consistent and effective;
  • policies that ensure access to quality education and investment in the teaching profession.

By Georgina Quaittoo

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