A data published by UNESCO on school enrolment globally, reveals that 58 million children of primary school age and 63 million adolescent of junior secondary age are not enrolled in school.
This defeats the Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations, which set 2015 as its target in ensuring that all children complete a full course of primary education.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said this in a speech read on his behalf at the media launch of the World Day Against Child labour in Accra.
The day, which would be observed globally on June 12, on the theme: “No to Child Labour- Yes to Quality Education,” and it is being organised by Child labour Unit of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.
Mr Iddrisu said the Day would be an opportunity to raise voices against child labour and the need for all children to have education at its best.
He said the obstacle of quality education for many rural children still lies in the negative perceptions associated with education and the likelihood of employment.
“For many Ghanaians, child work is viewed as part of a child’s socialisation process that helps them get better accustomed to the skills needed later for employment. This must be differentiated from the worst forms of child labour, which is not only injurious to the health and well-being of the children but also deprives them of their education,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu said the situation is worsened by the disincentive to send children to school due to the poor quality teaching and poor rate of education leading to unemployment.
“The sensitive yet hidden and pervasive nature of child labour requires a holistic approach, which must comprise providing free compulsory and quality education, ensuring that all boys and girls have a safe and quality learning environment, enforcement of laws on child labour and promoting social protection policies to encourage school attendance.”
Mr Iddrisu said “child labour can affect all sectors of our economy and thus must be dealt with by reviewing the National Plan of Action to ensure expansion of quality education, promote the right of children to education and effective social mobilisation for attitudinal and behavioural change for the elimination of worst forms of child labour”.
The Minister commended the organisers of the event for acknowledging the important role of the media in fighting the canker, adding that government is prepared to collaborate with the media to disseminate information effectively.
Ms Teresa Nadia Abugah, Deputy Head, Gender and Social Protection, Trades Union Congress – Ghana, called on the government to ensure the provision of adequate educational facilities and resources.
“It is equally important to note that the elimination of child labour is a collective responsibility. The process involves all stakeholders including children, teachers, parents, civil society organisations, and community groups, as well as local and national bodies responsible for children affairs,” she said.
Ms Akua Ofori Asumadu, officer-In-Charge of Child Labour, ILO, said despite the challenges some progress has been made as there has been a downward trend in child labour over the past 10 years and the numbers attending school have increased.
Stakeholders present called for appropriate government interventions to eliminate child labour or bring it to tolerable level.
The Ghana Living Standards Survey Round Six report on child labour for 2014 indicates that 8.7 million children from five to 17 years, representing 21.8 per cent are engaged in child labour. GNA