Professionals, who deal with cases of child labour, are now better equipped to address the issue with the launch of the Child Labour Handbook for Professionals.
The Tackling Child Labour Through Education (TACKLE) Project, launched the handbook, during a training workshop, held at the Alhambra Inn in St. Andrew on Thursday, February 14,.
The publication aims to enhance the knowledge base on child labour and is designed to provide guidelines for professionals, who encounter instances of child labour in the course of their work and assist them in enforcing regulations.
Director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Marva Ximinnies, said the handbook is a welcome addition, as resource material on child labour is very scarce in Jamaica.
“The handbook is comprehensive and points to areas that are in need of greater exploitation….the handbook has gone into great detail on what are some of the major issues that need to be addressed,” she added.
The Director said the Ministry was happy to have partnered with several entities over the years in addressing child labour in Jamaica, including the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), the Child Development Agency (CDA) and non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
“We have been able to make an impact on the lives of close to 2,000 children,” she said.
“[The document] as a starting point, will provide the basic information and the steps necessary for referring children, who have been impacted by child labour through the legislative and legal system,” explained Nasolo Thompson, International Labour Organization (ILO) National Project Officer for TACKLE.
Ms. Thompson noted that based on ILO’s estimates, there are 20,000 professionals nationally who could utilize this document. These include members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), guidance and counselling staff in the Ministry of Education, teachers, coaches and medical professionals.
“So, there is a wide variety of people, who actually need access to this information and it’s up to us to see the best way, in order to get it into their hands,” she noted.
Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon-Harrison, also welcomed the publication noting that “it represents a compendium of best practices that emphasize the Jamaican situation and therefore allows for realistic implementation by professionals, who may encounter child labour in its several forms”.
“It summarises the international and local positions that are relevant to the employment of children and by so doing, provides access to resource material that treat with this issue. Indeed, the handbook sensitises practitioners about how they can detect whether in fact child labour is occurring, and how to address the problem if they so find,” she added.
Child labour is work that is physically or mentally harmful to children’s health and development, or interferes with their schooling, homework, rest and playtime.
The production of the handbook was funded through support from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Secretariat, and the European Union (EU).
The TACKLE Project, which is administered through the Labour Ministry, was launched in 2009 to address child labour through education.