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Discouraging child labour in Nigeria

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WORLD Day Against Child Labour is expected to see an array of activities, ranging from gathering of child workers and their supporters to school events, children’s art shows and drama performances, child-adult information workshop, activities organised by workers and employer representative, media events and public activities to educate people on child labour.

  The first World Day Against Child Labour was observed on June 12, 2002. “This first World Day Against Child Labour is intended to help spread the message that child labour remains a serious problem and that we must do something to combat it,” said International Labour Office (ILO) Director General, Juan Somovia.

  According to recent reports, ” a future without child labour”, 246 million children; one in every six children aged five to 17 are involved in child’s labour. Among its startling findings, the reports also revealed for the first time, that some 179 million children aged five to 17, one in every eight children in the world is exposed to the worst form of child’s labour which endangers the child’s physical, mental and moral wellbeing.

  We are reminded by UNICEF’s fact-sheet on child’s labour in Nigeria, a staggering 15million children under the age of 14 are working across Nigeria, being exposed to long hours of work in dangerous and unhealthy environment, carrying too much responsibility for their age; working in these hazardous conditions with little food, small pay, no education and no medical care. It’s glaring to see as we look at what is happening around us, the depressing sight, confirming that the average Nigerian child works to contribute and support their families.

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  “Child’s labour in the country is something we see every day; it’s like a normal thing now. Children who are meant to be in school are seen on the street hawking and doing other menial jobs which children of their age shouldn’t be doing. Sometimes, I don’t blame them neither do I blame their parents. The country’s economy is in a bad shape. Also, I think illiteracy is another thing. Most parents don’t know about family planning. They need to be educated on giving birth to the amount of children they can cater for,”said Mr. Anayo chigozie.

  This year, the International Labour Organization(ILO) calls on all to focus on assessing the impact of “crisis” on child’s labour, particularly with current COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged countries creating uncontrollable crises everywhere; the resultant effects has caused social and economical disaster on families with the lockdown as many have lost their jobs and the folding up of businesses.

  As families are trying to survive in this period, the window to contribute is widely opened in families as everyone is expected to bring in something to the table. Unfortunately, children are often thrown to the war front at this period as they are first to suffer as they are being sent out to hawk or look for work to put food on the table , deprived of needed necessities as they are forced into the labour market to find for themselves and families.

  “Our school is conducting classes through radio stations and notes are sent through WhatsApp on Android phones. I can’t listen to the radio programs because when it would be aired, I would be hawking. I have to borrow my friend’s notes as none of my parents have an Android phone, even after copying the notes, I don’t still have time to read them because when I get back home, I would be very tired,”  said Chinedu Ubaka.

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  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), adopted by the world leaders in 2005 calls on the global community to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate  forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.”

  Mrs. Nnenna Opara,a school teacher said, “children have rights also to be free from child labour. We need to do more than talking about this. All these social welfare have to be active in their service for the benefit of the child’s wellbeing.

  Let’s all adopt the Child’s Right Act (2003) which provides for the protection of the child in all ramifications. Let’s put plans in place to protect and secure the future of children who are entitled to enjoy their childhood.

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