Editorial: Government Must Take Decisive Action Against Child Labour

The 2023 Annual Household Income and Expenditure Survey indicates that over  900, 000 children, aged 5 to 17 years were involved in different forms of work and employment in the fourth quarter of 2023, which represents one in every 10 (10.3%) children in this age range, according to the Ghana Statistical Service.

Among these children, about 893,000 are involved in employment work, which is mostly paid work. More of the children who are involved in different forms of work are males (56%). Almost half a million (458,443) of these working children are not attending school, comprising 68,500 who have never attended school and 389,943 who attended school in the past.

The Survey has revealed a distressing reality as we observe the World Day Against Child Labour, with this year’s theme: “Let’s Act on Our Commitments: End Child Labour.” It is imperative that we intensify our efforts to protect the rights of children and ensure their access to education. What is particularly alarming is that almost half a million of these children are not attending school, with 389,943 dropping out of school.

Given the significant number of children not attending school, it is critical for the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to take decisive action. The introduction of free education should serve as a catalyst to reintegrate these children into the education system. It is unacceptable that in a country with free educational programmes so many children are deprived of their right to education.

The Ministry of Education and GES must deploy targeted interventions to identify these children and facilitate their return to school. This involves conducting outreach programs to utilize community-based approaches to reach out to families and communities where child labour is prevalent. This can include door-to-door campaigns and collaboration with local leaders and organisations to identify children who are out of school. Providing support services is also crucial as many of these children come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Ministry should offer support services such as school feeding programs, provision of school uniforms and learning materials to alleviate the financial burden on families. Additionally, strengthening monitoring and enforcement is essential. Implement robust monitoring systems to track school attendance and prevent dropouts. There should be strict enforcement of policies that mandate school attendance and penalise those who employ children illegally.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment also has a pivotal role to play in eradicating child labour. As we mark the World Day Against Child Labour, the Ministry must reaffirm its commitment to eliminating child labour through strengthening legal frameworks to ensure that the laws prohibiting child labour are rigorously enforced.

This includes conducting regular inspections and imposing penalties on employers who violate child labour laws. Promoting decent work for adults is also critical as addressing child labour involves tackling the root causes, such as poverty and lack of decent work opportunities for adults.

By promoting decent work for parents, the financial pressure on children to contribute to household income can be reduced. Additionally, raising awareness is necessary by launching awareness campaigns to educate communities about the harmful effects of child labour and the importance of education. These campaigns should also highlight the legal consequences of employing child labour.

The statistics from the 2023 Annual Household Income and Expenditure Survey are a clarion call for immediate action. As a nation, we cannot afford almost a million children be denied their right to education and a bright future.

The future of our nation depends on the education and well-being of our children. Let us act on our commitments and work together to build a society where every child can thrive and reach their full potential.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here