September 3, 2019 2:32 pm

As part of Ghana’s effort towards the attainment of target 8.7 of the reduction Sustainable Development Goals which enjoins all states to take immediate and effective measures to all forms of child labour by 2025 on one hand and the 70% reduction in the worst forms of child labour agreement of the Harkin Engel Framework for Action which ends in 2020. The Ministry of Labour and Employment Relations have organized a workshop on the collaboration and partnership against child labour and forced child labour in the cocoa sector in Ghana on 2nd and 3rd August, 2019 in Accra. The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morrison with some key officers from her Ministry were present to deliberate on measures that can help curb this menace in the country.

The workshop seeks to take stock of what has been implemented and achieved by different stakeholders so far and what remains to be done since the adoption of the NPA2, examine specific roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in their respective priority areas and define effective collaboration to end child labour in the cocoa sector.

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon Ignatius Baffour Auah in his welcome address said according to the 2017 survey by the Ghana Statistical Service the number of Ghanaian workers engaged in the Agricultural Sector has dropped from 70% in the 70s to the current figure of 38% with a sizeable number of farmers within the Cocoa Sector. This indicates that agriculture is no more the number one job provider for Ghanaians but rather the service sector which has about 48% of workers.

He mentioned that together with the Gender Minister they led the campaign in Cabinet to discuss the need to have a National Plan of Action the second one to enable the country have a National effort towards the elimination of child labour. Hon. Awuah said they all have a responsibility including Civil Society Organisations and industries that patronise raw materials from farmers to work towards the eradication of child labour.

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations said Civil Society Organisations and individuals that only have interest in reporting the evil things with regards to child labour and not using their resources in any way to eradicate child labour in Ghana should reconsider their decision. He said it is time we stop the lip service and the time is now. He added that that their efforts should be national in nature but not isolated efforts.

Hon Awuah added that as individuals operating within their concerns they are making an impact but they should extend their experiences to especially the cocoa growing sectors of the country. He said the mere fact that some people can differentiate between child labour and what is not child labour indicates that some level of education has been done but perhaps what is missing is using what we have heard into action but added that all is not yet lost.

He said the root cause of child labour to him is poverty and that industries should give what is due to the farmers so they can desist from abusing their children to acquire cheap labour on their farms and that there is no need in making huge profits when at the end of it all the rights of children are abused.

He also cautioned those who go in for donor funds to curb this menace and yet do not utilize them to fight issues of child labour but rather write good reports to cover the inception of the funds to put a stop to it.

He advised his colleague Ministers and others who are in charge of policy making and do not also do what is expected of them to desist from such acts. Adding that it will be dangerous to talk about child labour in cocoa production without touching on the other sectors to avoid the transfer of child labour from one sector to another.

The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morrison in her remarks said Ministries and Agencies should do more community engagements where they can get the opportunity of discussing their programmes and activities with the community members and also get positive feedbacks that can help them in their next line of action. She said through community engagements on child labour parents will appreciate the need for their wards to be in school during school hours and this can have a positive impact on the process of eradicating child labour.

She said as part of governments effort to provide one hot meal a day per every school going pupil through the ongoing school feeding progamme, a cup of delicious cocoa drink will soon be added to their meals to enable the kids gain more nutrients that will give them more energy to stay and study in school.

She also mentioned that with these initiatives including the Free Senior High School programme, parents and children should take advantage of the available opportunities and make the best out of it. The gender Minister added that in as much as farmers want their children to man their farms for them when they are no more it is also advisable they encourage their wards to get some form of education that will help them manage the financial aspect of their work and all other areas.

Source: MoGCSP

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