The Harmful Causes and Effects of Child Labor on Children in Ethiopia

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It is a common way to say that children are blessings to humankind and that childhood is a significant phase of their development as it holds the key to the fate of their future which is the future of any society. However, it is true that children all over the world are waking up and going to work instead of school. Child labor is not a new phenomenon by any means; it has been going on for years and has become a social issue. Many children around the world are denied of their right to have a childhood. The extent of child labor in a society is legitimately linked to the nature and extent of poverty: which makes it a problem of immense social and economic proportions throughout the developing world. Ethiopia, an east African country is one of the very many under developing countries with a higher rate of child labor. In poverty-stricken areas, it is common for a child to desert school and begin work in order to provide for themselves and their families. Children in Ethiopia engage in the worst form of child labor, including forced labor in domestic work, dangerous tasks in agriculture, weaving industry, prostitution and etc… (1;6) Many children from the poorly developed areas face barriers to education, including the distance they must travel to reach school; a lack of sanitation, which especially affects adolescent girls; the requirement to pay for uniforms and supplies; and a lack of teachers.

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According to the U.S. Department of labor, Bureau of international labor affairs, the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is the center of the child labor and trafficking. This is because there is a false information that runs in most of the rural areas that the urban cities are full of job opportunities that whom so ever comes there becomes rich without a hustle. But the truth is otherwise, where the urbans are most populated areas with job opportunities requiring professionals; where one needs to struggle and strive to succeed by getting proper education and qualifications. For this reason, the children who left their homes from the rural areas and came to the cities will then be forced to work for low wage abusive jobs.

Other factors that contribute to child labor in Ethiopia include illiteracy of parents, traditions, family expectations and exploitation of cheap labor.(4;8) Families continue to play a major role in financing, forcing and coercing their children to go abroad or to urban areas to look for work at an early age. These factors increase children’s risk of entering the workforce at a young age. These children working at a young age in the streets and in places where there are no enough checkups are at a higher risk of illness from poor hygiene and exposure to bad weather. In addition to that, one of the most important side effects is that working children may experience physical harm in a number of ways. These include an increased risk of accidents; children and young people often work in unregulated environments where little attention is paid to safety. As stated by the EFA Global Monitoring report, published in 2007 by the united Nations Educational Scientific and cultural Organization, working children often experience violence in the workplace from adult staff and managers. (2,4)

Even though child labor is often considered a problem that only affects girls, but it is a serious issue for both genders. For example, boys are often made to work as miners, factory workers, farmers and free laborers: While girls are recruited for domestic house duties, servants and prostitutes. Domestic servants are especially at a risk of becoming victims of physical and sexual abuse by their employers.

Different institutions and governmental offices in Ethiopia have tried to eliminate this horrible abuse to children. As part of the first education sector development program and to eliminate child labor in the mid-1990s, the government eliminated school fees and embarked on an ambitious school building program. This was by far the first action taken to solve child labor and this added to a significant number of increases in enrollment. However, enrollment grew faster doubling between 1999 and 2005, while the number of teachers employed increased by 75 per cent only. As a result, both classroom overcrowding and the ration of pupil to teacher (PTR) increased, with worrying implication for quality. (1;5) Giving a break to the students from paying for school was not helping children to be saved from child labor because there were more forces influencing them. This first change implemented by the government faced two if not more of the challenges that one can face when trying to cause a change. One of which is a financial constraint: as Ethiopia is an underdeveloped country financially unstable and the other was that the impact of providing free school to students scaled way much bigger than the teachers the government could afford to pay. Which basically changed most schools back to private, and the quality of education given by the private and public schools increased. As the gap between the rich and the poor grows, more children are forced to give up school for work.

According to International labor organization (ILO), there are certain agencies within the Ethiopian government that were made responsible for child labor law enforcement like the MOLSA (ministry of labor and social affairs, office of attorney general (OAG), Ethiopian federal police commission and ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs. (4,7) These agencies work together to develop and implement programs to protect vulnerable children and monitor alleged violations of child protection laws, including the worst forms of child labor. In addition to that they also work by prosecuting criminal violations of child labor laws. Lead the Anti-Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants’ task Force. The government of Ethiopia has established laws and regulations that are related to child labor. Although the government participates in and implements several; programs to combat child labor, these programs do not sufficiently target sectors with high incidences of child labor, such as agriculture and domestic work. in addition to that, a significant decrease in the funding for the labor inspectorate from 2016 to 2017 prevented proper enforcement of child labor laws, particularly at construction sites, and in domestic work. (8;3). As stated by the government of Ethiopia, on the labor proclamation, which was enacted on February 26, 2004, penalties for violating child labor laws range from $11 to $44 which is too low to deter a violation. (3;8)

Based on what has been listed above it is clear to see that there is not as much contribution from nonprofits. Which means we can foresee or expect that getting value driven nonprofits involved in the matter by implementing social programs that would advance the elimination of child labor in Ethiopia will be a big deal of breakthrough. One example of what a nonprofit can do is increasing the access to education by decreasing the distance to schools in rural areas, constructing sanitation facilities, eliminating school-related costs, develop and expand social protection programs to prevent or withdraw children from all relevant sectors of child labor, including agriculture and domestic work. This action could be supported by ensuring that labor inspectors have sufficient resources to conduct inspection in all sectors and that penalties are severe enough to deter child labor violations.

Speaking of solutions and causing a change, change doesn’t begin from the top. If you want to eradicate the weed from the farm you pull it out from the roots. And to stop child labor what we need first is collaborations to pull its roots from the root causes. Which could possibly be accomplished by nonprofits by illustrating how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context as described by the theory of change.

Depriving a child its childhood is depriving a Nation its future. Keeping our children safe and providing them with the needs they deserve is not the responsibility of a government only but a burden that applies to every single person in all over the world. The children we abuse today will grow into the burdens of tomorrow and the children we carry the prosperous future of a society.ction of this report.

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