Stop child labour: let children be children

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant will reflect on government initiatives to halt the growing problem of child labour when she addresses the National Day against Child Labour on Friday.

The event will be held at 10am at Frikkie Cronje Stadium in Wesselsbron – a maize farming town south of Bothaville in the Free State. 

A Survey of Activities of Young People (SAYP) 2015, whose results were released on 16 March 2017, showed that of the 1.12 million South African children between ages of seven and 17 years, 577 000 were involved in child labour in 2015. This is down from 779 000 in 2010.  

The survey showed that about 81 000 of the children involved in child labour appeared to be doing work prohibited by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.  

In 2015, more boys were engaged in economic activity (22.3%) compared with girls (20.9%). Both sexes experienced decreases, with the largest among girls at 3.6 percentage points.

The majority of the children involved in child labour were between the ages of 16 and 17 years, which is compliant with section 43 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997. 

Recent statistics by the International Labour Organization (ILO) revealed that worldwide, 218 million children between five and 17 years are in employment. Among them, 152 million are victims of child labour and almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour. 

The ILO says in absolute terms, almost half of child labour (72.1 million) is to be found in Africa, 62.1 million in the Asia and the Pacific, 10.7 million in the Americas, 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia. 

In terms of prevalence, 1 in 5 children in Africa (19.6%) are in child labour, while prevalence in other regions is between 3% and 7%:  2.9% in the Arab States (1 in 35 children), 4.1% in Europe and Central Asia (1 in 25), 5.3% in the Americas (1 in 19) and 7.4% in Asia and the Pacific region (1 in 14). 

According to the ILO Child Labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming, 17% in services, and 12% in the industrial sector, including mining. 

South Africa, as a member of the ILO and in its commitment to eradicate the scourge of child labour, has signed a number of protocols. 

Some of these include the Minimum Age Convention 138 of 1973, and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 182 of 1999 and the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990. 

The commemorative event will be attended by representatives of the ILO, government departments, organised business and labour as well as children. –