There is no denying that child labour has become one of the most contentious issues facing mankind today. Every day, we are assaulted with pictures of children in many Third World countries working as farmhands and labourers under the most inhuman conditions. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world involved in work that deprives them from receiving adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedom, thereby violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour. These forms of labour include work in hazardous environment, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution as well as involvement in armed conflict.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that children should be protected from economic exploitation. Any work that is hazardous, interferes with children’s education or is harmful to their health and development is considered as child labour. All across Nigeria, several children are indentured by either their parents or guardian to do all kinds of trades and businesses in order to make money for them. Incidentally, poverty has been the major reason for child labour in the country.
Those stressing such reason claim that parents, who cannot provide for the family, put the care of their children in the hands of relations. This is prominent with parents in the village. Most times, relations promise to take very good care of these children, and even sponsor their education. However, they end up turning them into child labourers, sending them to work throughout the day and even at night to earn money for them and thereby exposing these children to all kinds of hazards.
Spontaneous visits to factories, workshops, fisheries and such other establishments will reveal the extent to which child labour is a grave matter. This is why we are calling on the National Assembly, non-governmental agencies and all relevant authorities to take legislative and legal steps to end this shameful practice in Nigeria. Children are not in anyway supposed to be a source of the family income. Parents bring children into the world, and so, they should be able to cater for their financial, educational, material, health, and emotional and psychological needs. Furthermore, children are tomorrow’s leaders.
However, they cannot be true leaders and future champions if they are denied their right to quality education, and are turned into child labourers. It is a truism that child labour not only undermines the root of human nature, it also threatens future social and economic progress worldwide. Childhood is a part of human life in which the child enjoys the pleasures of life and parents love and pampering and should not be involved in various menial jobs at that tender age. That is why parents should be sensitised on the dangers of hiring out their children to people who end up exploiting them. We therefore advocate that perpetrators of child labour in the country should be prosecuted and jailed.