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Ngige links rising child labour to growing poverty

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
26 May 2022   |   4:11 am
The rising cases of child labour in Africa are a result of the increasing poverty among the populace, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has said.

Ngige

The rising cases of child labour in Africa are a result of the increasing poverty among the populace, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has said.

     
He hinted that Nigeria has adopted a multi-pronged approach to fighting child labour through a reduction in the poverty index, despite teething challenges.
     
Ngige disclosed this recently while addressing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, held in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
      
The Minister, who co-chaired the panel, said Nigeria faced numerous challenges in the fight against child labour but was doing everything possible to stem the social malaise.
      
According to him, the challenges in the fight to eradicate Child Labour include low revenue earnings due to a fall in crude oil prices and production, overdependence on imported goods/ items and low agricultural production as well as economic recession.
     
He attributed the worsening scenario in Nigeria to the COVID-19 pandemic, which stagnated economic activities globally, pushing the country into a second economic recession in 2020.
     
Ngige added: “Even before the present administration, poverty had crept into Nigeria’s socio-economic firmament and accentuated child labour with many non-working age persons, taking to farming and artisanal mining.
    
“Also, the educational curriculum, which is not properly developed to give the right and proper skills in the secondary and tertiary institutions compounded matters.
   
“High rate of school dropout among children also became a major issue and a catchment pool for child labour. Decent jobs for young persons gave way to informal, hazardous jobs, such as illegal refining of petroleum products, which has claimed scores of lives with attendant pollution, working poor in the heavy construction industry, as well as ill-equipped persons handling dangerous chemicals in industries.”
      
To reverse poverty, which he said was at the root of child labour, the Minister stated that the Federal Government has rolled out various measures including the diversification of the economy through the agriculture revolution –
provision of fertilisers, grants to farmers, quick yields and agricultural extension.

Other measures, he said, are the stoppage of unnecessary importation of commodities, such as rice, potato and beans and blockage of revenue leakages.
       
He added that the government was boosting technical and vocational training education, through the restructuring of the entire secondary and tertiary education curricula.
     
He hinted that the government introduced free education at the primary and junior secondary level, as well as a school-feeding programme to tackle low school enrolment. He added that though these efforts were yielding fruits, the Nigerian Government still needed technical support from the ILO.

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