KINGSTON, Jamaica: Minister of Labour and Social Security Pearnel Charles has announced that the Tackling Child Labour Through Education (TACKLE) Jamaica project will spend $25 million to help build policies and promulgate appropriate legislation to combat the incidence of child labour in Jamaica.
Charles, who said the matter was one that required serious attention, disclosed that about 16,000 children in Jamaica are involved in child labour and other kinds of labour related abuse.
He noted that the majority of child labourers are boys, which creates an urgent need for a special program targeting abused boys.
“Our children are up against it and, of the number involved, studies indicate that some 7,000 are engaged in prostitution, pornography and slave labour, predominantly males,” said Charles.
Sectors which show the highest incidence of child labour are agriculture, which accounts for some 60 per cent, followed by manufacturing and wholesale businesses.
The Minister said Jamaica, in harmony with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is committed to eliminating the problem, and that education is critical to the process.
“The longer a child remains in school, the better he or she will be able to find gainful employment in later life,” he said.
Charles also urged members of civil society, including the church and labour unions, to partner with the government to eliminate the problem.
“We are working to put child labour in the curriculum of all schools, we are sensitizing the police and we need to get parents to understand that it is a social crime to take the child out of school,” he said.
He emphasized that the Ministry would not tolerate this kind of child abuse and appealed for stronger partnerships to arrest the practice.
TACKLE is a four-year project involving the governments of 11 participating African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, the International Labour Organization and the International Program for the Elimination of Child Labour.
The purpose of the TACKLE Project is to strengthen the capacity of national and local ACP authorities in the formulation, implementation and enforcement of policies to fight child labour, in coordination with social partners and civil society.
Within the overall strategy of the project, a key theme is the strengthening of formal and informal education, to enable a more effective and efficient response to the issue of child labour.