Social protection schemes as tools in the fight against child labor | The Guardian Nigeria News

Fighting a habit rooted in social injustice without first addressing the root causes will no doubt be a difficult task.

Indeed, distinguishing between child labor and child labor is often difficult in a society where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

The thin line is what stakeholders said refusing a child to assess school and engage in some level of work during school hours is what child labor is while engaging a child in light work after school or during holidays in work that is not hazardous to him or his health, equally proportionate to his ability and non-exploitative, is acceptable. Also, a child peddling for his parents to financially support the family after school is eligible to be in law.

Above all, the engagement of children in certain forms of work could easily be minimized if the social sector – education and health – is well financed by the government.

Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari believes that child labor will decline massively if federal and state governments increase investment in social protection schemes.

Buhari, who said so in Abuja at the national conference on children to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labor in 2022, argued that tackling child labor requires a systemic approach and effective policies to strengthen social protection systems, education, as well as decent work opportunities for parents and children. caregivers to effectively combat the threat.

Buhari, who was represented by Kwara State Governor’s wife, Olufolake Abdulrazak, urged levels of government to place high importance on investments in social security schemes, establish strong social protection floors and to protect children from child labour.

The President’s wife noted that child labor is rapidly becoming rampant, largely due to poverty and ignorance, saying the conditions that lead to child labor must be addressed holistically.

“The government has put in place social security programs, as previous speakers have pointed out, to deter all shades of child labor, in addition to diversifying the economy through the agricultural revolution and strengthening the security system to reverse poverty as a predisposing factor to this light,” she said. .

She maintained that child labor remained a major threat to child development in Nigeria despite the legislative measures taken by the government at various levels to curb it.

While admitting that there are many activities, which have led to a huge difference in raising awareness among parents, children and even schools, she said that the adoption of the Human Rights Act child and other protective laws by governments at the state level play a crucial role in reducing child labor.

However, she expressed optimism that the initiatives introduced by the federal government will help alleviate child labor in the country.

She added, “All of these federal government initiatives will set us on the path to eradicating the threat of child labor in our communities and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. A multi-sectoral approach will help eradicate child labor in Nigeria.

In his presentation, the Minister of Labor and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige noted that child labor has become a scourge in Nigeria.

He said: “Many children end up on the streets, forced to earn a living, along with other employees in industrial complexes and dangerous environments. However, as a country, we are proud to say that considerable efforts have been made to deal with this threat. More specifically, the adoption and ratification of ILO Conventions 138 and 182 on the minimum age and the worst forms of child labour, respectively; the adoption of the Child Rights Act to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with its adoption by approximately 30 state governments; the implementation and enforcement of the National Action Plan on Child Labour, Prohibition and Eradication of Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in the Workplace, led by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment.

Ngige, who urged stakeholders not to lose sight, stressed the importance of providing safety nets for children in vulnerable situations.

In her intervention, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Kachollom Daju, who recognized teachers as character builders, said: “We cannot talk about the future of children without those in charge of shape them – the teachers. Teachers not only impart knowledge but also help build character. Teachers are also responsible for shaping a child’s future and making him a better human being.

In her intervention, the ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Venessa Phala, stressed that the right to education is a human right and that it is It is important to provide children with universal access to free, compulsory and quality basic education to ensure that human beings reach their full potential.

She added that in Nigeria, around 15 million children are engaged in child labor, saying half of them bear the heavy burden of hazardous work.

She hinted that Nigerian children, through the children’s parliament, had called last year for the enthronement of measures that would curb child labor in the country.

“Among the demands were the eradication of peddling during school hours and the passage of the Labor Standards Bill criminalizing the list of hazardous child labour. They also called for social intervention programs for vulnerable households. The inclusion of child labor issues in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of private companies and increasing the representation and participation of children, among other demands,” she said.

Phala further said that the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labor in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL-Africa), in collaboration with ILO tripartite partners, has stepped up its protection social welfare, child participation and school-to-work transition with a range of interventions in line with the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan, Nigeria National Action Plan, States Action Plans and others roadmaps to achieve the total elimination of all forms of child labor and forced labor by 2025.

According to her, since the beginning of May 2019, the ILO and its partners have improved the policy, legal and institutional framework to combat child labor in the cocoa and artisanal gold mining sectors, using approaches innovative and evidence-based that tackle the root causes of child labour. in supply chains.

The ILO Country Head stressed that for the ILO and its partners to sustain their interventions, governments, social partners, media, academia, NGOs, donors and trade unions must constantly engage children to ensure sustainable policies and implement legal requirements for the disposal of children. work through supervision.

“To ensure an enabling environment for the elimination of child labour, there is a need to improve relevant policy frameworks and come up with innovative solutions to address poverty, which is the root cause of child labor and forced labour. . We urge employers to honor workers’ rights to social protection by consistently paying the employer’s contribution to health protection, old-age benefits, workers’ compensation and other support systems” , said Phala.

She also called for an increase in CSR to focus on reducing the vulnerability of children, increasing funding for existing interventions, ensuring continuity in the execution of policies related to child labour, supporting to the school-to-work transition and the encouragement of the participation of children, in particular children within the legal framework. working age.

For its part, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) said that although organized companies do not always have contractual or business relationships with entities that cause child labor impacts, the effects can be linked to the practices of their supply chains, saying, “unfortunately, the worst forms are usually found in this sector.”

NECA, represented by Deputy Director of Abuja Head Office, Adenike Adebayo-Ajala, said that over the years the apex employers’ body has played a vital role in the fight to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by engaging in discussions on the issue of child labor, making contributions to legislation while advocating and raising awareness among supply chain actors about the harmful effects of the hiring practices of their suppliers and the benefits of responsible business without child labour.

Joel C. Hicks