Jobs and Career
From Child labourers to self-sustaining workers
Posted Friday, January 11 2013 at 02:00
The problem. Studies have shown that most Ugandans living below the poverty line are children, making the fight against child labour hard.
On dropping out of school, many children and their parents lose hope in the future reasoning that an uneducated child will be unproductive.
While vulnerability in communities remains a major cause of the high rates of school dropout, it has led to exploitation of youngsters through employment of children in homes and other small business areas.
Two years ago, Edward Yiga was a porter after he dropped out of school upon completion of primary level due to lack of school fees.
“After completing P.7, I started working as a porter at peoples’ gardens and construction sites to raise school fees but in vain. So I continued working but the work was hard for me that I could fall sick every month,” recalls Yiga, 19, a resident Lusaka Zone in Makindye.
Currently working with four of his friends, Yiga narrates that he was recruited and supported for a vocational course after counseling by Platform for Labor Action (PLA), a move he says opened flood gates in his life.
“After training, I started working under someone’s guidance at a rate of Shs5000 per day including lunch until I accumulated some money and I then joined my friends to start our own workshop,” says Yiga whose working capital has since multiplied from Shs50,000 to Shs150,000.
Heavy porter work
According to Yiga, unlike the heavy work of being a porter from which he earned him less than Shs30,000 a week; his shoe making business earns him a minimum of Shs120,000 depending on the demand.
“I am now able to pay rent for my workplace and house as well as survival means as a result of the profits I make every day,” he boasts.
Nicholas Kambale, 17, a P.5 dropout seats next to Yiga with whom they are working earns up to Shs50,000 a week from his Shs80,000 of working capital.
“I failed getting school fees and started fetching water for people and I would save shs1000 per day until I was taken for training but now I have ready customers who pick my products (shoes) directly from the workshop for hawking and others for selling at their respective areas,” says Kambale.
A recent study shows that 24.5 per cent of Ugandans, most of whom are children, are living below the poverty line.
The 2010/11 household survey by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated that 2.75 million children in Uganda are engaged in child labour, 51 per cent (1.4m) of whom are involved in hazardous work.
Labour rights activists says that unsafe working conditions, inadequate access the healthcare, the aftermath of war, HIV/AIDS pandemic and lack of adequate social security coverage for all persons continue to worsen the plight of these already vulnerable workers.
The youngsters are part of the hundreds who were liberated from exploitation through the arrangement of promotion of human rights of vulnerable, marginalized and undocumented workers in the country majority of who are women, youth and children in both the formal and informal sectors.
Ms Lilian Keene Mugerwa, the Executive Director of Platform for Labour Action (PLA) explains that the organization rescues, rehabilitates and places children in primary, secondary and vocational schools upon an assessment basing on age and their best interests of a child.
“We provide free legal aid to the children and other vulnerable and marginalized workers, in case their rights are abused. Our interventions are contributing not only to the National Development Plan and also to millennium development goals. This helps the children to develop and get better lives and hence contributes to the development of the country,” says Ms Mugerwa.
According to Ms Mugerwa, PLA helps children basing on age and the level of vulnerability of a child involved in child labour or at risk of joining the exploitative activities.