PAINSTAKING INVESTIGATION by WOJAKU in the Dangme East District has revealed that child labour is on the ascendency and if proper measures are not put in place to curb the practice, the district will see its future leaders “die with great dishonour”.
This revelation came to light when this Reporter embarked on a research to ascertain the rate of child labour and abuse in the district after indigenes has dropped a hint on the issue.
Making mockery of the Free Compulsory Basic Education (FCUBE) policy, some parents continue to engage their children in “jobs-for-money” at the expense of the child’s education refusing to send them to school.
Professions in which the children are engaged in include fishing, farming, and cattle rearing.
At Tetsonya, a town close to Big Ada, Wojaku spotted a seven-year-old boy taking care of over 30 cows. According to the little boy who gave his name as Addo Amos, his day begins at 6:00 a.m. at Ada Luta, a suburb of Ada in the Greater Accra region, taking the 30 herds of cattle in search of green vegetation to feed on.
Addo Amos, who was interviewed around 10:00 a.m., said he has not even had his breakfast since he left the house early in the morning to feed the cows. He had no option but to bring the cows closer to a place where an engagement ceremony was taking place to beg for some food.
Touched by the plight of this innocent boy, this reporter bought some food and water for him as he looked dehydrated and weak.
Narrating his ordeal to Wojaku, little Addo claims he would rather prefer to be in school lamenting that he always sends the cows to graze several kilometers from his village, Ada Luta, and returns home late in the evening before he is given some food to eat. He mentioned his parents as Awetse Kwesi and Kwekour at Ada Luta. According to him, his father, Awetse Kwesi, currently resides at Akosombo, but the cattle he was looking after belongs to one Bro. Kwesi at Ada Luta whose children are all at school.
According to him he is denied proper nutritional diet and clothing which was very evident in his appearance.
Touched by the plight and agony through which Little Addo passes through each day, Wojaku decided to research on the issue of child labour in the District and its environs and the initial results were amazing, especially, in this modern age.
The practice, according to investigations by this Reporter, is very rampant especially in the cattle rearing communities in the district. The compensation for plying this risky trade, Wojaku learnt is one cow for every three continues years.
A parent, who claimed anonymity stated: “Even those cows which serve as reward for these poor boys are always claimed to have died mysteriously after they have finished with their three years ‘cattle rearing’ service in the bush.
Our investigations and close observations also revealed that those children that have been engaged in this type of child labour at places like Akosombo, Yeji and other fishing communities outside the Dangme East District, tend to behave abnormally after some time. They also find it very difficult to pick up with learning in class due to the prolonged malnutrition they have suffered from and excessive and abnormal jobs they were made to do.
It would be recalled that sometime ago, a bus load of children were intercepted by the police on their way to Yeji to be engaged in child labour, however, the Member of Parliament for Sege Constituency, Honourable Wallace Gbodzor Abayateye said it was normal practice claiming the children were going to visit their parents.
“It is prudent to engage children of school going ages in minor jobs that will not affect their educational careers and that will not have any psychological effects and damages to their body and general well being,” he had stated.
However, Wojaku is of the view that the security agencies must intensify their efforts and arrest and prosecute those culprits who engage in any form of child labour and child slavery.
“The fight against child slavery and abuse must be embraced by all and not left for government and the security agencies alone as the perpetuators of these barbaric acts reside with us in all our communities,” stated a concerned citizen.