Children work in fields and factories, they sew footballs and t-shirts, they pick coffee and cocoa, they mine, they dig, and they fight in wars. Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest incidence of child labour – 26.4% of all 5 – 14 year olds.
These children are trapped in poverty with little hope of escape. Child labour deprives children of a childhood and the opportunity to develop thier full potential. It jeopardizes their overall development and interferes with their right to education. Without basic skills and education children remain in low paying (and often dangerous) work. These children and their families are consigned to a life of poverty and vulnerability. Moreover, child labour keeps adults out of the work force or at low wages since employers prefer to hire children because they are cheaper and more obedient. Therefore, child labour also undermines the development of the community and country as a whole.
To fight child poverty, one needs ot address child labour and provide formal, full-time and quality education to all children. Education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized children and their families can lift themselves out of poverty.
The study carried out by the WYCF team discovered that 3,000 children in the western Urban and Rural District of Sierra Leone were engaged in economic activities, while 2,000 were found in conditional hazardous work. The fact that child labour remains acceptable and accessible to children is a dangerous precedent for other innocent ones who have never tried the trade. The study also concludes that the situation of child labour may be worse that presented due to the various economic and non-economic activities in the District. Our argument at WYCF is that no matter what reason, a child’s priority should be to study for a meaningful future.