Today is the World Day Against Child Labour. Launched in 2002 by The International Labour Organization (ILO) this is a day to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organisations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.
Children on the Edge combat child labour through the development of community led child protection, the provision of quality education and, when the need arises we facilitate more targeted work.
An estimated 1.76 million 5 -17 year olds in Uganda are engaged in Child labour. In and around Jinja where we are have established four child protection programmes, findings indicate that most of these working children have attended some formal education, however there is evidence to suggest that still one in every five working children had no formal education.
These children have very few options and are prone to exploitation and poor conditions of work. Some are engaged in domestic duties, some children beg, wash cars, scavenge, work in the commercial sex industry or sell small items on the streets. Other hazardous activities include construction (particularly brick baking), sand, picking scrap and working at the lake shores.
During initial consultation with the Child Protection Teams, community members highlighted how children were often neglected and found loitering or searching for charcoal to sell. They are often sent by parents, which is why some awareness work on child exploitation was so important.
In response to this we have conducted a series of workshops in three communities outside Jinja. The objective of the workshops was to create awareness about child exploitation and its effect on a child’s development process, also to sensitize community members about various laws regarding child labour and exploitation.
During the training, participants were encouraged to identify forms of child exploitation in their own area, as well as those who perpetrate it. Each area came up with over 20 different occupations that children were burdened with, along with many scenarios they have witnessed where child labour has caused serious and lasting harm to the children in their communities.
One of our teachers talked about the importance of early childhood development and how if a child’s environment limits opportunities for learning children will be unable to realise their potential. Registration for the Early Childhood Development programme was also going on during the workshop, so not only were carers receiving training about the issues, but they were able to take practical action to protect their children at the same time.
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