Child labour amidst Covid19
Child labour is a violation of the fundamental human rights of minors whereby adults exploit children for their personal gain or children’s work to feed themselves due to poverty. According to the International Labour Organization(ILO), Africa has the largest child labour rate of 19.6% with 72.1 million African children involved in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work like mining, agriculture, drug trafficking, recycling, prostitution and slavery. While the Covid-19 pandemic has made accessibility to education difficult, teacher unions and NGOs are raising awareness on child labour and on the importance of education through projects and programmes.
EI affiliates from Togo and Mali have implemented projects to raise awareness on this issue. The projects “Child labour free zones’’ in Togo and “Work: No Child’s Business’’ in Mali are supported by EI, FNV Mondiaal, AOb, ENDA, Save the Children and UNICEF.
In Togo, the project has distributed hand sanitizers, face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent the contraction of Covid-19. It was in this regard that, the project coordinator, Mr. Hodabalo Alfa indicated that “The pandemic should not make us forget other social problems, such as child labour…’’ and added that a set-up of a village committee for trained teachers, school principals and students was organized to combat child labour, as well as to raise awareness about the importance of education. Furthermore, the general secretary of FESEN, Mr Hounsimé Sénon, who also took part in the activity asked participants not to jeopardize the future of children by allowing child labour which prevents them from going to school.
In Mali, 28 teachers from SNEC also attended a training session on child labour supported by ENDA, Save the Children and UNICEF. The training session took place from the 4th-5th July in the District of Faragouaran (Bougouni region). The training established the opportunity to form five school clubs in five villages and to develop five fora social dialogue techniques among leading figures in the community and decentralized representatives of the Ministry of Education. Therefore, school clubs and fora will operate together with teachers and school principals to eliminate child labour in Faragouaran.
According to UNESCO and ILO press release, more than 1 billion learners in over 130 countries risk to be pushed into child labour as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. For these and other reasons, EI and its member organisations found it necessary to remind governments not to lose focus on child labour, where parents and guardians find excuses to subject children to child labour now that schools remain closed in many countries.