Child Labor in Africa

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Child Labor in Africa

A recent study done by the ILO (International Labour Organization) estimated that 217.7 million children ages 5 to 17 are engaged in child labor all over the world. Of these, 126.3 million are caught in the worst forms of child labor (More than…1). What exactly is ‘child labor’? Child labor (or child labour) is the employment of children under an age determined by law or custom. This practice is considered exploitative by many countries and international organizations, “Poor children and their families may rely upon child labor in order to improve their chances of attaining basic necessities” (Causes...1). Child labor in Africa is a horrific problem it is abusive, prevents children from gaining an education which leads to poverty, and is started too young. Sharon LaFRANIERE explains what she saw first hand while visiting in Africa.

“He last ate the day before. His broken wooden paddle was so heavy he could
barely lift it. But he raptly followed each command from Kwadwo Takyi, the
powerfully built 31-year-old in the back of the canoe who freely deals out beatings…Until their servitude ends in three or four years, they are as trapped as the fish in their nets, forced to work up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, in a trade that even adult fishermen here call punishing and, at times, dangerous” (LaFRANIERE 4). When the children do something wrong they are punished severely. They will often times get beat or even have nothing to eat for a period of time ranging from a day to a week. LaFRANIERE reports on an incident that happened last year, she expounded by saying, “Nigerian police stumbled upon 64 girls aged 14 and younger, packed inside a refrigerated truck built to haul frozen fish. They had traveled hundreds of miles from central Nigeria, the police said, and were destined for work as housemaids in Lagos” (LaFRANIERE 4). This just goes to show how careless and cheap the employers really are.

Education plays a very important role in child labor. Many parents and children decide to send out their kids to work in order for them to earn money for an education. This choice is often times a foolish option. There are many times when the subordinate will promise an education to the child laborer but they will never be received. A recent study done by the ILO tells why child labor has risen and school enrollment rates have gone down so drastically, “The incidence of child labor in the country has risen partly because of the deterioration of the school system, itself a result of economic decline. Poor infrastructure, low teacher morale and the introduction of school fees under the country's structural adjustment programme have contributed to higher drop-out and truancy rates” (Harsch 2). This is the reason child labor has risen and it is very unacceptable.

When children do not go to school but instead go to work right away it leads to a new generation of poverty. This quote from the article Child Labor rooted in Africa’s poverty is very accurate: “It is no coincidence that Africa also is the poorest region, with the weakest school systems. And among African children, those from poorer families are far more likely to seek work” (Harsch 2). This hits right on because they all have to go support their families and do not have time for school. Poverty plays a very large role in Africa’s society today. The article “Causes of Child Labor” explains just how much poverty effects civilization. “The effects of poverty in developing countries are often worsened by the large interest payments on development loans. The structural adjustments associated with these loans often require governments to cut education, health, and other public programs, further harming children and increasing pressure on them to become child laborers” (Causes…3).

There are many cases when the child goes to work and he/she usually does not have time or the budget for an education. Child labor is not the answer to...
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