From the clinical safety of our first world offices, the idea of child labour, and indeed child slavery, seems improbable, implausible, even unbelievable. Yet it is a fact that globally there are millions of young people doing hazardous work in dangerous conditions, that is severely harmful to their physical, mental and social wellbeing. Many of these jobs are illegal, enslavement or trafficking of children is common and exploitation, hunger and abuse is widespread. In 2015 world leaders agreed and adopted Sustainable Development Goals; a set of 17 goals and 169 targets including three specifically aimed at ending child labour, slavery and trafficking. While it is disappointing to learn that recently in India, a controversial child labour bill has been passed by the lower house of parliament, it is encouraging to see a report issued out of Tanzania recently that shows that child labour is on the decline.
The country’s Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for persons with disabilities, Dr Abdallah Possi, was encouraged by the new figures that show a decline of 2.3 percent in child labour since 2006. He says that the movement is a response to a number of initiatives introduced by the government to tackle the issue. Awareness campaigns have been key, disseminating information amongst big businesses to encourage investment in children to gain economic growth showing them that educating a productive workforce will prepare for less dependence on relief from other countries.
With the balance of interest in children in the workforce shifting from enslavement to enrichment, the value of children has risen in the country so that families now understand their children are an investment in better long-term productivity rather than a means to make a quick buck. By giving children the potential to bring a fair wage into the home, their wellbeing is of greater interest to those around them, and with the support at government level, the idea of child labour, slavery or trafficking is on the way to becoming as unsavoury an idea for Tanzanians as it is for those in first world society.