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Child labour in Nigeria: Matters arising


Child labour

Sir: The Greek philosopher, Plato, once said: If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life. The need for an African child to stand up tall in life, led to the agitation of nearly ten thousand black students, who marched on the streets of Soweto, South Africa  to protest against the low quality of their education, on June 16, 1976.

Towards honouring the  young students who were killed and injured  in the  two-week protest, countries all over the world celebrate the Day of the African Child yearly. According to statistics  by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), one out of five children in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of about six and 11 are out of school, while  one out of three  between the ages of about  12 and 14  are also not enrolled in school.  Almost 60% of children between the ages of 15 and 17 in that part of Africa are not in school.

Localising these facts better shows that Nigeria has the highest number of out -of -school children in the world. A fact that has also been espoused by the data given by the government last year. The Federal Ministry of Education through its Permanent Secretary  Adamu Hussaini, last year revealed that  10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria , with  a larger percentage being girls, street children and the children of nomadic groups.


Despite the heavy fund allocated to assist the education sector by the World Bank, the UNESCO and other  non-profit organisations across the world, Africa do not only have a high rising number of educated youth but still  have the poorest  education standard compared to other regions of the world.

Experts in the field of development have highlighted some of the reasons for high rate of out of school children in Nigeria to include: conflicts,  cultural factors that prevent children particularly the girl child to go to school as well as the inadequate funding of the education sector. The African Child  have other  numerous challenges ranging from, early marriages , subjection to violence, child labour, exposure to child prostitution, drug trafficking, conscription into militias and criminal gangs.

This year, the theme of the Day of the African Child is Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development.Quality education seems to be the key to putting every other vice affecting African child to an end. The engagement of a child  in any work that deprives him or her of the  ability to attend regular school is referred to as child Labour. It is disheartening to see children hawk items on the street when they are supposed to be in School. Some of them who go to school hawk till late at night.

Education of the African Child, if well managed, is an effective component of any effort to eliminate this exploitative act that is rampant in Africa. All African countries are faced with the challenge of child marriage. The act, which affects both boys and majorly girls, is mostly caused by pressure from poor parents and relatives, with lack of alternatives.

A way to put an end to the menace is to educate the African Child to be able to maintain a healthy family and at the same time be of service to humanity.

Education they say is fundamental to national development and growth of a society. Therefore,  it is an important factor which can help reduce  the rate at which children drop out of  school before reaching the final  grade of primary education in the country.

We need to invest in the education of our children so that they can be equipped to face any form of challenges ahead.  We should ensure no child is left behind for the good of Africa’s Development.

Sesan Sodunke wrote in from Oke-mosan, Abeokuta.

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