South African has attached great importance to the elimination of all forms of child labour. This is made possible through its Constitution under Section 2(1) (f); the support to the ILO programmes, adoption of a programme of action towards the elimination of all forms of child labour. The department of Labour is the lead department in the process.
Challenges Agriculture in the rural areas need to be addressed in order to effectively provide for policies and strategies to help end child labour in agriculture. Rural areas are characterised by poverty, low level of education, minimal basic services and lack of alternative economic opportunities. In some instances child labour occur out of desperation to make a living and at times parents are part of the problem. Children become a support to augment the minimal income of the family. In this case the problem of child labour cannot be easily detected nor adequately reported upon and addressed either out of ignorance or struggle for survival.
What can then be done:
- Concerted effort to raise awareness about child labour can enlighten families about the adverse effects of child labour and the importance of supporting an end to child labour practices. As an environmental education specialist over years, and working with communities over many issues (Gender based violence, HIV aids, conservation of biodiversity etc), I have come to realise that many good policies and strategies have missed driving the message home or addressing the problem, as they failed to acknowledge and address socio-cultural issues that inhibit or remain as barriers to the adoption of the good intentions of such policies. A good programme should unearth these inhibitions/barriers which then inform the policies and strategies.
- Extensive consultation with the general public and the engagement with key community stakeholders especially those affected communities will enhance the literacy levels and raise awareness about the importance of protecting children against child labour practices,
- Social programmes are not sufficient to address the scope of child labour
- Barriers to education should be identified and addressed to ensure access to education and increase opportunities for rural communities especially those involved in agricultural practices.
- Integrate and ensure coordination bodies are able to carry out their intended mandated
- Certification schemes have a great potential but often no proper assessments and monitoring are made or may be biased
- Labour inspectors to be well trained and sufficiently resourced
- Supporting NGOs and training them to identify child labour and the worst forms of child labour and collate and publish data on the extent and nature of child labour to inform policies and programmes. NGOs are often well equipped, focused and effective in dealing with such challenges facing communities as they are based within communities,
- Monitoring and evaluation of the progress of efforts to combat child labour.
Ms. Maria Moate