Opinion

Protecting Children From Child Labour

The following is Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Mahendra Reddy’s statement on World Day against Child Labour celebrated today.   As the whole world observes the World Day Against
12 Jun 2017 10:00
Protecting Children From Child Labour
Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy.

The following is Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Mahendra Reddy’s statement on World Day against Child Labour celebrated today.

 

As the whole world observes the World Day Against Child Labour on the 12th of June, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy has called upon all parents to ensure that their children are in school by creating a ‘school or education culture’ in the family.

“The best way to combat any form of child labour or child exploitation is to keep the child in school.

“Education in the 21st Century is perhaps the single most important component that is mandatory to eliminating issues and constraints affecting humans.

“Issues of child labour, poverty, unemployment, crime, drugs and substance abuse, social problems and non-communicable diseases; including the greater environmental problems such as, global warming, sea-level rise, degradation and destruction of land and marine ecosystems can all be overcome when societies and every individual is educated,” Mr Reddy said.

The Minister for Education further highlighted that:

When a child is in school, he or she:

 Is safe from being exploited into work or labour;

 Learns about his or her rights and freedom;

 Learns to act for his or her rights and freedom as needed; and

 Orchestrates his or her educational development culminating into academic qualifications which fetch them employment and future success.

Child Labour refers to the employment of children in work, compromising their childhood and basic rights of education, safety and protection.

World Day Against Child Labour is an International Labour Organisation sanctioned observance which seeks to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour or the exploitation of children.

The Constitution of the Republic of Fiji has thoroughly enshrined the rights of children, clearly defining that every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, any form of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour and that the best interests of a child are the primary consideration in every matter concerning the child.

Mr Reddy stressed that quality equitable education in Fiji has flourished due to meeting the key component of accessibility.

“Fijians today are enjoying accessibility to education, like never before in the past.

“The free education scheme ensures that children have no reason to stay away from school right from Early Childhood Education to Year 13.

“We have further uprooted any drop-out issues by making education compulsory till Year 12.

“To ease the demands of those children who intend to divert to trade skills education, we have established 13 Technical College Campuses all over Fiji.

“The children are now benefitting from a host of educational reforms such as, bus fare scheme and free milk and wheat-bix which targets all children to be in school. Our new policies on child protection, welfare, safety and security justify our intentions on providing the children the best quality environment for development,” Mr Reddy said.

He said there was absolutely no reason that a child should stay at home or work.

He further mentioned that if it is happening by force, then it is illegal and those caught will face the full brunt of the law.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts have also launched Pillar four of Education Reforms which targets ‘Quality Parental Engagement’ in education.

“We have mooted this reform robustly in the education system, spearheading the movement that parents must take ownership of the education of their children.

“We cannot have parents prioritising other things when compared to education.

“When children are neglected or unattended, they fall victims or become vulnerable to issues of child labour and child abuse.

“So I am again calling on all parents to send their children to school, every day.

“Be part of their schooling process and as such save them from exploitation or child labour,” he said.

The Ministry of Education has also rolled out a programme to identify all school drop-outs and as needed, support them to get back to their schools or to the Technical Colleges.

“After a highly successful campaign in Lautoka and Nau on.

These are the children who can easily fall prey to child labour and therefore we are ensuring that we intervene to eliminate the issue of our children being exploited,” Mr Reddy said.

“Schooling and education is paramount to the development of our children leading to the overall development of our nation.

“I encourage all parents and guardians to ensure that their children are given all the opportunities to get educated. Parents must supervise their children and protect them from all forms of ill-treatment, exploitation and suffering.

The theme for World Day Against Child Labour is: “In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labour” and all schools around the country are encouraged to observe this day either on Monday June 12 or on any other day during the week.

Schools have been advised to join the campaign through organising awareness activities on the issue of child labour and the negative impacts it can have on the development of children.

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