Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Nigeria's child labour

In the past, children worked with their families, learning skills they would need as adults. But today, children are forced to work for their own and their family’s survival. Child labour is so widespread in Nigeria that it has been accepted by many as part of normal life. The end of the oil boom in the 70s, coupled with mounting poverty, has driven millions of children into labour.

Recent studies and reports, especially from the International Labour Organization show that child labour has been made worse in recent times because some of these children have no solid background, no education and no parental care. In the circumstances, they become street hawkers. They work in the streets during the day, and work even at night in some cases. Such lifestyles become very dangerous and nomadic types of life. There is little wonder therefore, that the future of these children is very dark and bleak. There are many children in Nigeria who work under inhumane conditions hidden from public view. The conditions of some of these children are compounded by the fact that they do not receive any kind of formal education. Because of the ramifications and consequences of child labour, it is no wonder that it is actually illegal in Nigeria, although the sheer scale of the activity gives the impression that it is legal.

In Nigeria quality education is no longer free. The ‘free education’ available in many local and state governments across the country does not provide the desirable tools for future freedom from ignorance or even preparation for work after education. Child rights activists also submit that lack of access to education is a major reason for the child labour quagmire. Statistics shows that these working children lose out on education because they have no time, money or energy to go to school. It also shows that about six million children, comprising of boys and girls, do not attend school at all, while one million children are forced to drop out of school due to poverty or because their parents demand for them to contribute to the family’s income. Over eight million children manage to stay in school and work at their spare time to pay school fees. But due to high demand at work, these children normally skip classes.Rabiu Musa, UNICEF Communications Officer stated 10 million children were not in school in the country. Missing out on education makes it impossible to break the cycle of poverty and exploitation.

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