CHILD LABOUR

Albert Farfrae

That’s her working for her money. Poor thingShe can hardly have control of her balance yet she carries on her head a load of almost her body weight.  At 14, she is employed because her parents can’t cater for her education and basic needs not knowing she has a life ahead of her.

Stella, ( not her true name ) the sixth of eight deprived children in her family is just one of millions of teenage kids who are forced into child labour around the world working hard for a living because of parental negligence. Her duty is to gather various wastes at her department and her meagre salary which is collected on her behalf by her father is paid days after the regular pay day.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions states on their record that 71.6 percent of children in Sierra Leone between the ages of 5 to 14 are under forced labour of different kinds. Governments and other organizations have held workshops, lectures and seminars on educating the public at large of this loss of national pride but their efforts seem to be a mere mockery by the culprits.

Consider Stella’s parents who have neglected and rejected all family planning methods introduced to them at no cost; a choice if chosen, was not to hold poverty responsible for the reason behind her neglect and abuse. Here, poverty is grossly accused especially by her father who collects her hard earned pay in the guise of saving her funds though she’s aware that she’s one of the family’s bread winners.

Besides poverty being one of the reasons of child labour on the part of parents and victims, education is another factor as in the case of Stella. Both parents are equally uneducated therefore, they are not able to get for themselves jobs that can financially sustain the family and get the required knowledge to empower them that in place of exposing their children to hard and abusive labour, they could be sent to acquire skills from entrepreneurs who are engaged in various skilled jobs.

The hidden cost of child labour ranges from depression to exposure,  drug abuse, violence, crime, teenage pregnancy, rape , sexually transmitted infections, and terminal injury  just to name a few. This abuse can be corrected by government if they impress upon everybody to desist from employing the under aged, report employers of under aged to the authorities and create jobs for unemployed parents. Providing adequate education even on family planning methods is essential therefore, government and non-governmental organizations have to stress on correcting the stigma associated with family planning  because when families are properly planned, the resources, no matter how little is managed to meet the needs of the family. Parents are to make use of the free education opportunity provided by government by sending their children to school and not exposing them to hawking, domestic jobs or any other activity which deprives them from schooling.

We all have our individual roles and duties to play in preventing and stopping child labour in the barest minimum. This struggle can be brought to containment by means of information, education and communication.

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