The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Tackling Child Labour Through Education (TACKLE) project, has been successful in achieving the withdrawal of some 130 Jamaican children from child labour activities.
Head of Economics, Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Helen Jenkinson, made the announcement at the World Day Against Child Labour event hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on Tuesday (June 11), at the Wyndham Hotel, New Kingston.
In highlighting achievements under the project, officially launched in January 2011, and is being carried out through funding from the EU, she mentioned a review of the National Education Policy to address child labour issues.
In addition, a knowledge attitude practice and behaviour survey has been conducted in 30 schools island-wide and the data gathered will be used to develop a module on child labour, which will be used in the national education system.
Miss Jenkinson said the TACKLE project has also facilitated the training of various stakeholders in measures to deal with child labour issues, with a module developed in collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and another focusing on statistical data.
The latter, she informed, is intended to assist the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to develop data on child labour management programmes, “because, clearly, you need to have an idea of the size of the problem (in order to take action); and so statistics are quite important in this area”.
“The programme has also brought together, members of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions and Jamaica Employers Federation, together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and they have drafted a hazardous work list for Jamaica,” Ms. Jenkinson informed.
A four-year project, being implemented in 12 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific states,TACKLE aims to address child labour through education.
The ILO reports that some 215 million children are involved in child labour globally and of this number, an estimated 16,000 are in Jamaica.
The objective of TACKLE is to contribute to the withdrawal of children engaged in child labour and to prevent further entry of children into employment by offering alternative education and training opportunities and thereby contributing towards poverty reduction. It also provides guidance in formulating new or improved existing legal and policy frameworks on child labour and education.
First Vice President of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) Bernita Locke, said her organisation, which is a key partner in the TACKLE project, remains committed “to working with the ILO TACKLE Team to develop and implement effective strategies against child labour and to work collaboratively with organisations and community-based institutions to mobilise broad-base support for change."
“We are committed to partnering with trade unions and non-government organizations (NGOs) in the design of relevant responses, especially vocational and skills training, for working children,” she added.
While citing poverty as the main cause for the incidence of child labour, both locally and globally, Mrs. Locke contended that this was no reason to deny children of their right to live their “childhood experience”.
“We should encourage our children to work, but not (engage in) the worse forms of work,” she argued.
Mrs. Locke, who is also Director of Human Resourcees at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), said the JEF has partnered with project stakeholders to undertake activities targeting youth deemed at-risk.
These, she informed, include a future leaders vocational camp, targeting some 25 youngsters, which involved representatives from TACKLE, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Police Community and Safety Unit, St. Andrew Care Centre, and Social Development Commission (SDC).
Mrs. Locke also pledged the JEF’s undertaking to promote an awareness and education campaign to highlight the negative impact of child labour through policy development and implementation, as well as sensitization of members.
“We will mobilise our members to play a decisive role in the fight against child labour, and to ensure that their enterprises are free of child labour, especially those small enterprises in the informal sector, which hire children,” Mrs. Locke added.
A 2002 child labour survey revealed over 7,000 Jamaican children were involved in the worst forms of child labour, such as drug trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution, and work similar to slavery. A total of 78 cases were reported in 2011.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter