2021 is the international year to end child labour and Uganda has joined the rest of the world to accelerate the pace of actions and inspire legislative action aimed at ending the vice for good.
This year, government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, undertook to launch and implement the National Action Plan (NAP) II on the elimination of Child labour 2020/2021-2024/2025, a master plan that details Government efforts aimed at ending Child Labour.
Child labour refers to any work or activity that deprives children of their childhood. This includes illicit activities and activities likely to endanger the safety, health and morals of children.
Child labour constitutes one of the greatest sources of child abuse and exploitation and it’s a fundamental violation of the rights of the children.
The vice remains a major challenge to Uganda’s socio-economic transformation and its consequences are grim. Additionally, child labour can result into extreme bodily and mental harm, or at worst even death. Most saddening, it deprives children of the right to education.
Many children are caught up in hazardous and life-threatening activities, in the informal sector, domestic work, in the streets, plantations, Mines and brothels, etc. Some of the contributing factors are poverty, domestic violence, HIV/Aids, pandemics and epidemics , armed conflicts, domestic violence, etc.
According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2019/2020, 28 percent of children in Uganda are engaged in some form of child labour, with incidences increasing from 14 percent before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
In line with its pledges, the National Action Plan (NAP) II on the Elimination of Child Labour2020/2021-2024/2025 was launched by President Museveni during this year’s International Labour Day celebrations at State House, Entebbe.
In order to attempt to address the phenomenon, the ministry in consultation with a wide spectrum of stakeholder developed the National Policy on Elimination of Child.
The main thrust of the policy is to guide and promote sustainable action aimed the progressive elimination of child labour.
The policy under the institutional framework provides the establishment of the National Steering Committee on Elimination of Child Labour as a policy organ.
National Steering Committee on Elimination of Child Labour is responsible for spearheading and coordinating advocacy against Child Labour elimination, guide and coordinate the programme activities, determine priority areas, monitor and review policies.
This Committee was launched on June 12, during the commemorations to mark the World Day Against Child Labour and it held its inaugural meeting last month. This committee is very key in the fight against child labour because it will set and develop policy priorities, guidelines, approaches and work programmes areas/sectors for the elimination of the vice in accordance with government’s international obligations and nationally set priorities.
The committee is comprised of 35 members with representation from among others the office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Local Government, Uganda Police, NGOs and selected UN agencies.
The committee will periodically review the implementation of the National Action Plan on Elimination of Child Labour, review and validate the Country Report on Application of National and International Labour Standards on Elimination of Child Labour.
Other roles of the committee will include: Ensuring effective coordination and liaison within the different structures at inter-ministerial and sub-committee levels as well as with external interested institutions and individuals. Making recommendations on child labour matters for consideration during policy formation and review and will also participate in dissemination of child labour materials. Reviewing and endorsing project proposals for the elimination of child labour.
Commissioning and reviewing research on child labour; and overseeing the implementation of interventions and recommending good practices from partners to strengthen the strategic direction on elimination of child labour. Other drastic policy and legislative steps that the government has undertaken include; The Child Labour Policy, 2006; the National Employment Policy, 2011; the Employment Act, 2006, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2006 and Employment Regulations, 2011.
Mr Bernard Amuriat is the Assistant Commissioner/Labour Inspections, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.