Chief Chanje of the Chewa Speaking People in Chipangali district has expressed his displeasure over the increased cases of child-labour in his chiefdom.
The traditional ruler has commended Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) for implementing various programs in his area aimed at improving the lives of his subjects.
Speaking when European Union (EU) Zambia programme manager Patricia Kapolyo paid a courtesy call on him at his palace yesterday, Chief Chanje said most children stop school as they opt for employment by tobacco growers.
ZANIS reports that the traditional ruler however said the introduction of the Protecting Every Child Against Child Labour through Education (PEACE) project will help curb cases of child labour in his chiefdom and the surrounding areas.
Chief Chanje has since pledged support to work with the PEACE project in order to ensure that his chiefdom becomes a child-labour free zone in Eastern Province.
And accompanied by her team, Mrs Kapolyo said she was in Eastern Province on a familiarization tour to acquaint herself with the projects undertaken by Jesus Cares Ministries.
She said the E.U has pumped in 400,000 Euros in the PEACE project which is supposed to be implemented in Chipata district, Eastern Province and Nkeyema district in North-Western Province.
The PEACE project has a three years life span.
And Chipangali district Community Child Labour Committed(CCLCs) coordinator John Mbewe says most school children at Ikwele Primary School absent themselves in preference for cheap labour in tobacco fields in the area.
Mr Mbewe reveals that most parents and guardians also force their children to work in the tobacco fields so that they earn money to pay for their school fees.
“It is a sad situation because children as young as 10 or 12 years of age work in these tobacco fields. Sometimes some children opt to stop school after earning the little money they are paid by these tobacco growers, “he said.
Meanwhile, Rukuzye Primary School senior teacher Sebastian Daka said abseentism is mostly recorded during the first and third terms of every academic year at his school .
“Abseentism is very high during these two terms because it is the time when tobacco growers employ the children to work in their fields.
“Most of the children employed are in grades 3 and 4.The children are mainly employed in term one when during harvest time and also in term three when it is time for planting the tobacco, “he said.
Mr Daka said after an effective engagement with the parents by Jesus Cares Ministries and management from his school, a slight improvement in attendance levels has been recorded.
” A lot of work still needs to be done in order to fight child-labour in our area. We need to safeguard the lives of these child so that they may develop well psychological and physically as they are the future generation, “he said.