The Adansi North District Assembly in the Ashanti Region has reportedly declared zero tolerance for child labour in the district.
Under a new bye law, no child shall be engaged in mining activities, and that a person shall not engage a child of less than 18 years to undertake any trading (business) activity, including illegal mining. A parent or guardian is responsible for keeping children under 18 years indoors after 8:00 pm.
According to the assembly, anyone who contravenes the said bye-laws ,commits an offense and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of 20 penalty units, or in default, a term of three months imprisonment, or both.
The declaration is part of the Assembly’s resolve to eliminate child labour in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with its programmes funded by the US Department of Labour.
Education is the pillar for the development of every country, including Ghana. This is the reason why past governments of Ghana committed substantial resources to ensure quality education in the country.
The Akufo-Addo government has taken the step a notch higher with the introduction of Free Senior High School, where parents have been saved the hassle of looking for money to pay their wards’ tuition and other fees. The country is already implementing free compulsory universal basic education. All these policies are geared towards the education of the Ghanaian child. However, despite the implementation of these policies, some children are seen on our streets selling all kinds of merchandise, thus relegating education, which is free, to the background.
Also, because of quick money, some parents deliberately encourage their children to do menial jobs just to raise chop money to feed the family. These parents are obviously not interested in the education of the child so that he or she becomes a responsible person in the future. Based on these setbacks we have enumerated, The Chronicle fully supports the decision of the Adansi North Assembly to ensure that every child goes to school.
We, however, urge the assembly to be careful with the implementation of the policy. Under our tested customs and traditions, children support their parents in whatever trade they practice when they vacate from school.
This cannot be described as child labour, but, sadly, because of foreign influence, we now see this practice as forcing the children into child labour. Most top executives in this land of our birth have, in one way or the other, supported their parents on their farms, yet nobody is countering this obvious lie that parents are forcing their children into child labour.
It is the hope of The Chronicle that the Adansi North Assembly will not swallow hook, line and sinker, this clear propaganda to unnecessarily harass parents whose wards are supporting them in their farming activities whilst on vacation. Of course, if the children are seen weeding or doing other menial jobs whilst school is in session, their parents would have fallen foul of the law, and must be dealt with.
In Accra and other big cities in the county, children are seen selling dog chains whilst their colleagues are in school. If this emerging trend is fast gaining roots in Adansi North, the assembly has the duty to deal with the menace to ensure a proper future for our children.
But we insist that children supporting their parents in their farming activities can certainly not be described as committing a crime, as we are being made to believe.