KAMPALA — Children rights campaigners have expressed deep concern over the continued existence of child labor among some schools in Uganda.
The women activists under Environmental Women in Action For Development (EWAD) hope that the vice could be narrowed down to zero if initiatives which include the tighter legislation of laws and creating child friendly school environments coupled by mindset change of the private sector players are implemented.
Margaret Tuhumwire, EWAD Executive Director in a statement on Sunday called for national wide joint effort to help eliminate child labor within educational settings.
“For example on 14 march 2023 in Butaleja district, three children died at Golden Heart Junior School after a wall they were breaking on instructions of their teacher crushed on them. This is very unfortunate!
In a world where education is universally regarded as the cornerstone of a prosperous future, it is disheartening to witness child labor within the very institutions responsible for nurturing young minds,” Tuhumwire also the coordinator Work No Child’s Business (WNCB) project in Busia said.
“Child labor is a grave violation of human rights that impedes children’s physical and mental development, denies them access to education, and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and inequality. Shockingly, it is happening within the very walls of educational institutions, undermining the principles they should uphold. We believe that schools should be sanctuaries of learning, fostering environments that nurture children’s talents and empower them for a brighter future,” she said— urging schools to take decisive action and totally eliminate child labor within their premises.
Key among others, hazardous labor, long hours of farm work while others are studying, maintenance work, or even providing services for the school community at a covert fee paid to teachers or school heads are some of the child labor activities common in the Ugandan schools.
Activists say such practices compromise learners’ physical safety and undermine their well-being and educational opportunities.
“It is imperative that schools take the following actions to protect and promote the rights of every child:
Adoption of strict policies: Schools must establish and enforce clear policies explicitly prohibiting child labor within their premises.
These policies should align with international conventions and national laws that protect children’s rights, ensuring zero tolerance for any form of child labor.
Raising awareness and education: Schools should integrate comprehensive education on child labor into their curricula,creating opportunities for school children to understand the gravity of the issue and its consequences. By fostering empathy and social responsibility, we can empower the younger generation to become advocates against child labor.
Strengthening collaboration: Schools should collaborate with local communities, government agencies, NGOs, and relevant stakeholders to develop strategies that address child labor effectively. By joining forces, we can establish support networks and implement sustainable interventions that protect children and create lasting change.
Monitoring and reporting mechanisms: Schools must establish robust systems for monitoring and reporting suspected cases of child labor. This includes implementing confidential reporting channels and ensuring that reports are promptly investigated and appropriate action is taken to protect the rights and well-being of the child.
Supporting vulnerable families: Schools should work closely with families living in vulnerable conditions, providing access to social services, education, and economic opportunities. By addressing the root causes of child labor, we can break the cycle and create a future where all children can thrive.
Create friendly learning environment to foster learning, attract and retain children in school.
By taking these crucial steps, schools can serve as beacons of change, demonstrating their commitment to upholding children’s rights and creating safe, nurturing, and inclusive educational environments.
Teachers and parents often say they must beat children to instil discipline and help them learn or get better grades. But research and evidence shows the opposite is true. Learning best takes place in a safe and protective environment.
Corporal punishment has a hugely negative impact on learning. Firstly, it makes children stay away from school – one in four children in Uganda say they have missed school in the past year due to experiencing physical violence, and it is a major reason why about 34 percent children drop out of school.