Madam Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement and to thank the maker of the Statement for bringing it up because our children are the future leaders of this country. They represent a segment of society that we need to take care of and ensure that as they grow, they imbibe societal norms and grow to become leaders of society who will change the generation as they come to see it.
Madam Speaker, in fact, the issue of child labour is becoming a thorn in the flesh of the Ghanaian society. The reason is that many, many young people who are pushed too earlier into life of work end up not pursuing enough education, not going through enough socialization and then they end up being a social nuisance.
And so child labour in all of its forms, whether it is because we have got so used to it that we can no longer see the difference between child labour and child upbringing, is not good.
Madam Speaker, it is important for us
to differentiate between helping a child to grow through training and capacity building at a young age and helping a child to develop a skill and therefore, in the event the young person dying through “overuse”, meaning dying not just because he is going to die off, but dying because his potentials are diminished, his capacity to develop into a full adult is diminished; he grows up like a flower.
Madam Speaker, I think now we
should begin to understand that what we have got used to in Ghana can equally be classified as child labour. Many, many children who are coming up and growing in homes and who are subjected to very hard labour conditions on our farms, in the mining industry and in the markets end up failing in school and therefore, are unable to make it.
It is important for us to know that the child is not a young adult; the child is a growing person who should be moulded. The child's primary responsibility is to be in school and to be trained to become somebody in future. Therefore, this year must inform Ghanaians, not just the Ministry, but all Ghanaians, of their primary responsibility in bringing up their children.
Many, many children are victims of parental irresponsibility because the parents try to shift their own responsibility onto them and the Ministry must take note of this that it has to have a comprehensive programme that touches the family level, that touches the community level and that has a national appeal.
In the event, we need to revive some of the training programmes we have for those in school and those out of school so that we do not have a situation where training only occurs in school; even training can occur out of school. So the Ministry must begin to have a policy that should affect all young people across
board, young people who want to learn a trade, who want to stay in school and learn.
We need to begin to punish parents, to bring them to book, those who are irresponsible and who do not want to bring up their children because of the fear or because of the pain of paying school fees; they push them into the streets to sell and to do work that otherwise, should have been done by adults.
Madam Speaker, the Ministry has that responsibility and we call on it to wake up to that responsibility to track children who are in the markets, who are in the gold mines working, who are on the farms working; track them down, find out why they are there and trace them to their families and let their families be responsible for what they are doing.
Madam Speaker, there are enough laws for this. Ghana is one of the first countries, if not the first country to ratify the Children's Act and so it is important to let this law work. Reinforcement is the catchword and the Ministry has that huge responsibility. We know that it is a multi-sectoral responsibility, that all other organs, other Ministries are equally responsible. But the lead Ministry must make sure that it does link with all these other Ministries to come out with a policy that is of a national appeal and that is going to tackle this problem so that our children can be spared what they should do when they are adults. They should not be subjected to too much work and they should not fall out because they cannot continue because they are burdened with work which would have otherwise been done by adults.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity.