By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Labour Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul on Wednesday (December 18) issued a stern warning against the continued occurrence of child labour across Guyana.
The Minister says efforts are afoot to ramp up the prosecution process for adults found guilty of engaging and forcing children to work to provide for families.
He said the Ministry has not left any area untouched in tackling the scourge with work ongoing collaboratively with others Ministries in the hinterland where the occurrence is quite prevalent, along Guyana’s coastlands and other remote areas.
He was at the time reflecting on funds given to the Ministry by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on a tackle project for over 360 children in Arura and Kuru Kururu along the Linden Soesdyke Highway.
The Project entailed providing students with hot meals as a form of encouragement to attend schools.
Dr. Gopaul said prior to the project the average attendance of students peaked between 40%-60% which climbed to 100% with the initialization of the project.
He said the Ministry had noted that children in the area were subject to all forms of abuse including child labour and will make representation to have money set aside in the National 2014 Budget to continue the project which comes to an end in December.
“I want to see them continue in school, the project has played a very important role in educating children and preventing child labour,” he added.
He underscored the importance of a sound education as an eliminator to several issues affecting children current and as such vowed to continue and improve the work currently being done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
According to the ILO, a legislative review is planned for Guyana and it will undertake an analysis of gaps between the International Labour Standards, including ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 and the national legislation on child protection and education along with reviewing and strengthening the enforcement mechanisms related to child labour.
Further, a Rapid Assessment on Child Labour will take place to address the lack of data on child labour in Guyana; analyse the kinds of work done by children in the sectors including agriculture, mining and commerce; examine impacts of child labour on school attendance, morals and health; and assess the socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the families of children in labour activities. It is also intended to propose recommendations, opportunities, policies and programmes to address the issue.