Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott IN observance of World Day against Child Labour, the Department of Labour within the Ministry of Social Protection hosted a rally at D’Urban Park on Wednesday. Giving remarks at the rally, was Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, who stated that children should not be working in factories, fields nor offices, “children shouldn’t be working at all.”
“Children should have a smooth and exciting transition from school to the world of work where they can begin to live their dreams. They can best do so and live rich, rewarding, fulfilling and healthy lives if they acquire a rounded education,” Scott noted.
Scott highlighted that they would have recently developed and launched a National Policy on the issue of Child Labour. The Policy which holds all of the relevant legislation and international instruments, identifies the causes, effects and consequences of child labour. He said, “within the realm of effects, it is reported that the mental, physical, social and psychological injuries associated with Child Labour can endure for a life time. It is noted in our National Policy that it creates an effective poverty trap which can be crippling to a child’s education, growth and development.”
Students of Kingston and Carmel Secondary Schools who participated in the rally (Elvin Croker’s photo) “Do not yield to the temptations which are associated with money. Do not believe that it is a good thing to leave school early and enter the world of work before you are an adult. Do not believe in the false notion that you can get rich quick,” Scott urged the students. Onika Pearson, Senior Welfare Officer at the Ministry of Education noted that Child Labour is a worldwide issue which robs children of the “most fundamental reason for their existence, that is, to acquire a sound education.”
Pearson stated that Child Labour interferes with children’s schooling, by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, as such, it obliges them to leave school “prematurely.” It also requires children to combine school attendance with extremely long and heavy work.
“In its most extreme form, child labour is children being enslaved, separated from their families and exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves,” Pearson added.
However, she noted, that not all work performed by children should be classified as child labour, as such, children carrying out chores within their homes, that does not affect their health and personal development, should be regarded as something positive, since it can contribute to children’s development and the welfare of their families.
Pearson added that it is demanding for all stakeholders to work together towards the achievement of the “Sustainable Development Goal, number 4,” which speaks of inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning.
“This therefore means, that children must be free to go to school rather than work to support their families. In this regard it is essential for us to continue to work on exploring and addressing the links between education and child labour,” she posited.
The rally which was held under the theme, “Children shouldn’t work in fields but on dreams,” saw the attendance of students and teachers of Kingston Secondary and Carmel Secondary School who would have received awards for their participation in the rally. According to the International Labour Organization which is celebrating 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work, although child labour occurs in almost every sector, 7 out of every 10 of these children are working in Agriculture.
The International Labour Organization further indicated that the number of children, ages 5-17, who work, has declined by 30% since 2000. However, there are still 168 million child labourers worldwide and more than half of them perform harmful work.
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