The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Bongo in the Upper East Region, Mr Ayinbisa Ayamga Peter, has called on students in Ghana to be ambassadors and advocates against child labour and other forms of violations against children for they are among the category of persons who often suffer these abuses.
The DCE made the call last Friday in a welcome address to open a debate organised by the Assembly for selected senior high schools in commemoration of this year’s World Day Against Child Labour under the theme, “In Conflicts and Disasters, Protect Children From Child Labour”. He explained that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) first instituted the celebration in 2002 as a global advocacy initiative to highlight the plight of children engaged in hard labour. He added that the day, which is observed on 12th June each year, also served as a platform to garner support from child rights organisations and other like-minded stakeholders to fight against the canker while lobbying governments for strategic policy actions to address the issue.
Mr. Ayinbisa observed that child labour was visible in almost all spheres of life from the farms, the mining and fishing sectors through to school campuses and in homes but emphasised that for children to have an all-round development, all stakeholders must join forces to minimise drastically all forms of child labour if not completely eradicate the phenomenon. He disclosed that one of the chief priorities of government was to provide adequately for the education of children and ensure that their rights were protected at all times and especially, during conflicts and disasters.
He also used the occasion to preach against the recent spate of lynching and “instant justice” often unleashed on persons suspected of crimes stressing that any good citizen or group of citizens who are able to arrest a culprit for any violations of the country’s laws, must immediately hand over such culprits to the appropriate security agencies for the necessary action to be taken.
According to the Bongo District Director of Social Welfare and Community Development, Mr. John Azam, UNICEF records show that an estimated 150 million children worldwide were engaged in child labour. He said other statistics also indicated that child labour was more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa with nearly one in every four children between the ages of five and 14 years engaged in labour that is not helpful to their growth.
Touching on the topic for the debate “children should not be involved in any form of labour in Ghana”, Mr. Azam noted that due to high poverty levels and low incomes in some parts of the country, some children were often used in several forms of labour in order to augment household incomes. He also said because children were mostly exploited and underpaid as compared to adults doing the same jobs, many recalcitrant people continue to engage such innocent children in child labour and that all stakeholders must join forces to stamp out the menace.
The District Director of Education, Mr. Duncan Nsoh, who also addressed the students cautioned that while children and especially students on campuses often agitate for their rights to be upheld by school authorities, parents and guardians, they should also be minded of the fact that these rights often come with responsibilities on their part too as children.
Two of the about six second cycle institutions in the district namely, the Azeem-Namoo Senior High/Technical School and Soe Senior High School locked horns in the debate. The former carried the day and also had its Principal Speaker, Miss Cindy Mbame adjudged the best debater.
Source: ISD (Peter Atogewe Wedam)