A 16-year old pupil at Hill-Side day secondary school in Chipata has called on government and its partners to establish a comprehensive link between child labour and children’s education.
Blessings Mwale said this link will help fight against child labour in the country.
Ms. Mwale, who represented other children, said the linkage between education and child labour, and the general fight against this vice requires aggressive interventions in order to safeguard the future of the young generation.
She was speaking in Chipata during the commemoration of this year’s World Day against Child Labour.
She said the link between child labour and education cannot be overlooked as most victims of the scourge entirely miss out on school or do not attend school accordingly.
“The national child labour policy recognizes education as the key to reducing children’s premature entry into the labour market and contains a number of policy objectives relating to improving the education system and children’s access to it. We therefore appeal to government to strengthen interventions,” she noted.
The children’s representative said the child labour situation has worsened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a situation she said might backtrack the years of progress in tackling the challenge which were recorded in the last two decades.
Ms. Mwale has further called on government to take cautious measures to prevent and eliminate child labour at all costs by addressing all vulnerabilities children are faced with.
“Effective action against child labour must address the full range of vulnerabilities that children face and requires the implementation of policies and programmes that can contribute to the elimination of child labour through sustainable solutions to address its root causes,” she said.
She said in the wake of the pandemic, more children could be forced into exploitative and hazardous jobs while those already working may do so for longer hours or under worsening conditions.
“Gender inequalities may grow more acute within families with girls expected to perform additional household chores and agricultural works. Positive trends may falter, and child labour may worsen, especially in places where it has remained resistant to change such as in remote parts of the country,” she said.
Ms. Mwale added that these risks require urgent action to prevent and mitigate the toll the pandemic takes on children and their families.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Labour Officer Francis Shabani said the negative effects of Covid-19 on the economy and livelihoods of individual households are likely to increase the vulnerability of children to child labour.
Mr. Shabani said the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has developed a mechanism to collect child labour data in order to strengthen the information base on the vice and enhance service delivery.
He said reiterated that the effects of the pandemic might make children more vulnerable to be engaged in child labour for survival.
“The pandemic has caused a strain on the financial standing of families whose sources of income have been jeopardized, a situation that is likely to make children prone to being engaged in different forms child labour for survival,” he added.
Mr. Shabani said it is for this reason that the world is being implored to rise above this problem and ensure that child labour is fought aggressively until victory is attained.
He added that the Ministry of Labour has made considerable progress in the fight against scourge through policy direction and implementation of child labour programmes.
And Chipata District Administrative Officer Kapembwa Sikazwe said poverty is the major factor perpetuating child labour.
Mr. Sikazwe has since assured that government will continue strengthening child justice to guarantee child protection.
“Child labour should not be overlooked or taken for granted because its effects are grave. This is why government is committed to the fight,” he said.
He said government will continue to take a wide range of interventions to tackle all kinds of child labour.
The 2021 World Day against child labour was being commemorated under the theme “Act now: Stop Child Labour”