A STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF CHILD LABOUR ON SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Child labour is about children who work long hours for little or no wages. Often under conditions harmful to their health. The International Labour Organization (ILO) (1998), estimated that 24.6 percent of children between the ages of 10 – 14 in Nigeria were working. The United Nations Children Educational Fund (UNICEF) (1994), reported that approximately 24 percent (12 million) of all children under the age of 16 worked.
Child labour is found predominantly in the informal sector. In rural area, children are found working in agricultural and on family farms. They are seldom employed by state’s owned commercial agricultural plantations, which are responsible for much of the agricultural production for export.
In cottage industries and mechanic workshops, children work as apprentices in various crafts or trades, such as weaving, tailoring, catering etc. In urban areas and towns children work on the street as vendors, car washers, scavengers, beggars, head-load carriers, feet washers and bus conductors. The Child Welfare League (1996) reported that in Lagos alone, there were 100,000 boys and girls living and working on streets.
In Northern Nigeria, children known as Almagiri survive on the street by begging. Often, children in these situations don’t receive any formal education. Instead, they are forced to serve as domestic servants, become hawkers, or engage in other activities and many of them are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse by their guardiance.
With increase incidence of trafficking in children particularly girls for sex and domestic work, the International Labour Organization (ILO) (2003), estimates the incidence of child labour in Nigeria for persons aged 10-14 years is approximately 12 million. South-West, a greater number of girls and women end up in prostitution while in the East the problem affects mainly boys who find themselves trafficking in agricultural, domestic, trading and apprenticeship jobs.
According to the survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the International Labour Organization in 2003, Nigeria is a source, transit and destination country for child labour. Children from Benin Republic and other African countries are trafficked to Nigeria where some are forced to work as domestic workers, prostitutes or other forced labour conditions. Nigerian children are trafficked internally and to West and Central Africa for domestic labour and street hawking.
Ashagrie (1998) states that government and International organizations usually treat a person as economically active or gainfully employed if the person works on a regular basis for which he or she is remunerated. While child’s work is used when describing the activities that children actually undertake.
Amma (2000) had tried specifically to look at child’s work in a more detailed way. To him child work covers tasks and activities that are undertaken by children to assist their parents in particular such jobs as cooking, washing dishes, weeding, planting, harvesting crops, fetching water and fine wood, herding cattle and baby sitting in this case, child work simply aims at the tasks and activities which are geared towards the socialization process. Child work is therefore taken and viewed as part of the upbringing process.
Child labour refers to work carried out to the detriment and endangerment of the child, mentally, physically, socially and morally. It is characterized by denial of the right of children’s education and other opportunities. Children’s separation from their families are poor working conditions that includes among others long working hours, poor working environment, heavy work regardless of age and sex and so on. Bonded labour or debt bondage on the other hand; “the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or those of a person under his control as security for a debt”.
Bonded labour typically occurs where a person needing a loan and having no security to offer pledges his/her labour, or that of someone under his/her control as a security for a loan. The interest on the loan may be so high that it cannot be paid, or the labourer may be deemed to repay the interest on the loan but not the capital. Thus, the loan is inherited and perpetuated and becomes an inter-generational debt. Bonded labour is identified as one of the worse forms of child labour in ILO Convention 182. Children may be exploited for sexual work the term which is referred to as “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC).
According to US Embassy Stockholm (1996), child labour is the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in practices, or the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
Worst forms of labour according to ILO Convention No. 182 (1999) as ratified in 2003 is defined as: all forms of slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, forced or compulsory labour including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the illicit activities in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties; work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
Child Labour Initiatives – On August 2000, the Government of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ILO, becoming a member of ILO’s international programme of the elimination of child labour (IPEC) (ILO and IPEC). As part of effort to address child labour in the country, the Government of Nigeria and IPEC, with funding support of the U.S. Department of Labour (US DOL) have launched a country programme and established as National Steering Committee that includes representative from the government, labour, industry and Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs). The Steering Committee is responsible for developing and overseeing implementation of a national plan of action on child labour. In addition, Nigeria has carried out a national plan of action on child labour survey with technical support from ILO and IPEC’s Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC) and funding from USDOL.
Nigeria is also active in an ILO-IPEC regional project funded by USDOL to combat trafficking of children for labour exploitation in West and Central Africa.