Social Protection Ministry to create strategy to combat child labour

Georgetown, GINA, June 22, 2016

Steps are being taken to recruit qualified personnel to spearhead a unit that will be established to tackle child labour in Guyana.

Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence said she has already held meetings with Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott and Chief Labour Officer,  Charles Ogle on this issue, and actual work will begin by the start of the third quarter of this year to curb this scourge.

In 2015, the Ministry of Social Protection released the findings of the 2011 National Child Labour Rapid Assessment Survey which among other things found that children and young workers in Guyana are involved in the worst forms of child labour, including prostitution.

The survey was conducted in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, Corriverton, Black Bush Polder, Number 58 Village, Charity, Kwakwani, and Ituni. It targeted three categories of children; 15 years and younger (as young as five years old, 15 to 16 and 16 to 18. Five hundred and thirty two (532) children and young workers were involved in the survey, which was carried out during the period April 4 to 15, 2011.

It is against this backdrop that the Ministry is looking at creating a comprehensive strategy to combat child labour, and protecting the country’s children from falling prey to such acts, Minister Lawrence explained.

“People flaunt this particular aspect of the rights of the child and you can see them, you go in the stores, the market places, the vulcanising shop and we have our children who should be in school, are out there working and so we need to address that,” Minister Lawrence told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Minister Lawrence said that officers from the Ministry’s Labour Department have already benefited from two conferences on child labour. Additionally, the Ministry will be working on enforcing the requisite laws that cover child labour, removing working children off the streets and ensuring they are in school and providing more funding to facilitate labour inspections.

A 2014-2015, United States Department of Labour (DOL) child labour report also found that Guyana’s children are engaged in child labour in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labour in commercial sexual exploitation.

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