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Government launches ‘Chance for change campaign’

Chief of staff at the Presidency, Mrs. Akosua Fremah Opare has appealed for support from both government and private partners to facilitate the implementation of the National Plan of Action2, arguing that the menace called for a concerted effort from stakeholders to end it.

She said there were people with high social stature, academic standards and parents who could not comprehend the gravity of the situation and justified child labour with cultural and traditional practices and thus, exposed children to the harsh realities of life.

The National theme for the celebration of World Day against Child Labour is, “In Conflicts and Disasters, protect children from child labour: Mobilizing Resources for effective implementation of NPA, (2016-2020) “.

Mrs. Osei- Opare recalled her time as Deputy Minister for Manpower, Youth and Employment in the Kuffour administration saw a program designed by the government at the time aimed at the child labor menace, known as the National Program for the Elimination of the Worst forms of Child Labor in Cocoa.

The NPECLC was a government mechanism set up for eliminating children used in hazardous activities in the cocoa sector but the program has currently collapsed due to lack of funds.

She said, Government is committed to ending all forms of child labour by 2025, and called on all stakeholders including Non-Governmental Organisations, the media, religious bodies and the international partners to come on-board to achieve the objective.

“We need to inspire the support of all stakeholders who will support these efforts by way of their time, knowledge, energies and financial might to achieve the NPA Two,” she said.

The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Bright Wireko-Brobbey, at the gathering, launched what is known as ‘Chance for change campaign’ for children in the drive to campaign against child labour.

He noted that, the difficulties in implementing the NPA 1 was lack of resources and expressed optimism that the NPA 2 would largely correct the challenges that weighed the previous action plan to ensure its successful implementation.

He said the government was committed to protecting children’s rights and complying with the child Labour laws and regulations and international conventions such as the Children’s Act, Human Trafficking Act, Convention on the Rights of the Child among other international conventions ratified by the nation.

The Deputy Minister added that, the implementation of capitation grant, School Feeding Programme and the free Senior High School policy in the next academic year would help in empowering the youth to gain employable skills and support government’s quest to ending child labour.

Children engaged in child labour were prevented from acquiring basic literacy and numeracy education as well as technical and vocational skills thereby limiting their career opportunities and employability and future livelihoods.

Child labour is a shameful phenomenon and indictment on all of us, and it is time to stop hiding under a so-called cultural practice to find excuses. Children are children; they are our most important asset and deserve to be protected from being exploited in the labour field. It is worth pointing out that, if we do not stop these shameful practices, there are global agencies that have determined to institute punitive measures against us in some critical industries, which would lead to the loss of markets for our goods and the loss of jobs. Under my, government will work with all partners towards the goal of eliminating child labour. We will work to ensure that our children do not work under hazardous conditions to support themselves and their families. We will work to eliminate, in particular, the disgraceful practice of forcing children into fishing and illegal mining activities. It is important to keep reminding ourselves that child labour and child trafficking are not only crimes, but also pose veritable threats to our national security. We all have responsibility to protect our children from the criminality of child labour president Nana Akufo Addo stated during his 100 days in office.

The recent Ghana Labour Standards Survey (GLSS 6) released in August, 2014 showed that 21.8percent, representing 1,982,553 children aged between 5-17 years out of over 8 million are engaged in child labour. This is an increase over the 2003 Ghana child labour survey (GCLS 2003) of 1, 27 million child laborers, out of a population of over 6million children. The proportion of male children in child labour was slightly higher (22.7%) than females (20.8%) with children in economic activity higher (39.0%) in rural areas than urban (16.8%).

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