News Analysis

Protecting Children from Labour amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that may be harmful to them.

However, child labour is when children under the legal age of adulthood work or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.

According to World Bank records, Africa ranks highest among regions in the percentage of children involved in child labour.  

Child labour is not about children performing small tasks around the house, but the exploitation of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized children in society.

According to the recent estimates of the International Labour Organization, ILO, there are approximately seventy-two million child labourers between the ages of five to seventeen in Africa.

Children are withdrawn from school and put to work in order to fight the economic downturn.

Also revealed from past research studies conducted in Nigeria is the fact that, whenever most families have some shocks female children are used in replacement of their mother’s work in domestic duties instead of going to school.

Large proportion of female Nigerian children are used as domestic servants by trafficking them into some neighbouring countries, some hawk for their parents or their masters without directly been paid.

Parents who have the financial ability to forgo the income from their children in most parts of Nigeria still do not choose to send those children to school.

The Covid-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shocks are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer with the crisis pushing millions of vulnerable children into child labour.

Government should therefore intensify their efforts at educating parents on the need for a small family size.

This year, the World Day against Child Labour will be conducted as a virtual campaign and is being organized jointly with the global march against child labour and the international partnership for cooperation on child labour in agriculture.

As Covid-19 pandemic ravages the world, parents and guardians should protect their children and wards from labour and keep them at home.

Children should be properly engaged during this pandemic to protect them from contracting the dreaded disease.

Parents should be discouraged from giving their children for exchange or as servants in times of difficulty.

This the government can do by giving parents that wish to send their children to school but without the mean access to credit facilities to help them cater for their family.

Morenike Tony-Esan

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