With about a million children involved in child labour in South Africa, tough targets have been set for reducing child labour within the next five years.
Zolisa Sigabi, spokeswoman for the Labour Department, said this was according to the draft Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA) for 2008-2012 released yesterday in Pretoria as a forerunner to the World Day against Child Labour celebrated each year on June 12.
“There is acceptable work for children, and then there is child labour. Child labour refers to work that is exploitative, hazardous or inappropriate to the age of the child and which is detrimental to their safety, poses a risk to their health, social, physical, spiritual or mental development and affects their schooling,” said Sigabi.
In March 2006, the Labour Force Survey established that about 847 000 children between the ages of 10 and 17 years were involved in child labour. This included children under the age of 10 whose work activities qualify as child labour, children living and working on the streets and children in hidden and highly exploitative forms of child labour, such as commercial sexual exploitation or use in the commission of crime.
Sigabi said with all these categories taken into account, the best estimate is that child labour affects at least one million children in South Africa. In the next five years, the CLPA aims to:
reduce by 80% the number of children whose schooling is adversely affected by the work they are required to do and reduce by 90% the number of children performing hazardous work.