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ILO Earmarks US$3m to Fight Against Child Labor

By Joachim Mwalongo, TOMRIC News Agency (Dar es Salaam), 15 June 2001

Dar Es Salaam - International Labor Organization (ILO) has earmarked a total of US$3 million for Tanzania to fight against worst forms of child labor. The Parliament was told here yesterday that the sum would be released by ILO later following Tanzania's ratification of the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

Other countries which would share a total of US$7 million would be Nepal and El-Salvado, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, William Lukuvi told the Parliament. According to him, efforts would be done to combat worst forms of child labor like prostitution, mining, pornopraph and engaging children in war.

He said the government was currently finalizing its policy on a child's age so that at an age of 14, a child might be engaged in child work in Tanzania. Education regarding worst forms of child labor will be offered to the general public in the near future, he said. He said about 32 percent of children in Africa are being involved in child labor as 63 countries have ratified the ILO's convention number 182 of 1999 that calls for an immediate halt to child labor.

The minister's explaination on upcoming efforts to fight against child labor comes when preliminary data from the first round of the 2000-2001 Child Labor Survey (CLS) in Tanzania suggest that about 40.2 percent of an estimated 10.2 million school going children are not attending school, most of them are, instead, engaged in economic activities or in house keeping.

Addressing a just ended ILO conference in Geneva, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said the CLS in Tanzania suggest that 4.1 milion out of estimated 10.2 million children aged between five and fourteen years, which is about 40.2 percent, are not attending school, they do economic activities instead.

He said when addressing a special high level meeting on the launch of the Time-Bomb Programme on the worst Forms of Child Labour also organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), said child labour deprived children of their opportunities for schooling, adding that it also put on their afraid shoulders the burdens of both schooling and work.

Tanzania, is one of the ILO's country that had been selected as a pilot area for the implementation of its International Programme on Elimination of Child Labour (IPECL).

Explaining further, he said it was not that Africans preferred that their children should be exposed to such worst forms of child labour, adding that it was just that many did not have an option.

He linked the situation to an African proverb saying: Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat, it is just that no one ever gives them meat. He appealed to industrialized countries to help Africa including Tanzania, by investing in the future of its children, saying the future of the continent belongs to its children.

Mkapa attributed the education situation in his country to a number of factors that include low household incomes, existing gaps in socil services delivery systems, dysfunctional families, the HIV/AIDS sourge. Others were structural adjustment that led to deterioration of living conditions in rural areas, as well as economic reforms and lingering an outdated cultural practices.

He sounded emphasis on AIDS scourage: The death of breadwinners, or their inability to work due to illness, creates severe hardships for children. In Tanzania we are approaching a million children in terms of HIV/AIDS orphans. He added: As a result, a good number of such orphans end up fending for themselves through child labour, including its worst forms, such as commercial sex.

Tanzania is one of the first three counries, including Nepal and El Salvador, which have exhibited courageous committment to establish national Time Bomb Programme for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.