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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 

Ministry of Labour & Social Security

Govt. making Significant Efforts to Eliminate
Child Labour - Kellier

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Deputy Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Mary Read is in discussion with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Alvin McIntosh (left) and Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier. Occasion was the opening of the national consultation on the European Commission's proposal on tackling child labour, through education, at the Courtleigh Hotel

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier said today (June 19), that as part of its commitment to the United Nations (UN) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Government has been making significant efforts to reduce the incidence of child labour in the island.

"The full development of children in Jamaica and around the world demands that we remove all obstacles to these children. The government of Jamaica is committed to the global thrust to strengthen the human rights dimension of education and to give greater focus to education as a right,"Mr. Kellier stressed.

The Minister was addressing the opening of a consultation on tackling child labour through education, hosted by the ILO's Subregional office for the Caribbean. The forum is being held at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston.

Mr. Kellier said that as reported this month at the 95th Session of an ILO conference in Geneva, Jamaica could take comfort in being part of the Latin American and Caribbean region, which had posted the best results in the reduction of child labour.

"With only five per cent of the region's children engaged in employment, the figure is still too high," he said, pointing out that a recent study had found that 2.4 per cent of the island's children in the five to 17 age group were engaged in economic activities.

"As suggested by these findings, we in Jamaica have made some progress in dealing with this problem. However, with the intention of posting even better results here and in other countries, we have joined hands with the other nations in this great fight," Mr. Kellier said.

The Minister noted that the campaign against child labour began in 1989 when the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was further supported when the ILO in 1992 launched the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.

Jamaica is among the 86 countries where the programme has been implemented, and local efforts in this regard, Mr. Kellier informed, have included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2000 with the ILO, to implement a country programme to eliminate child labour in the island; a national survey on child labour; ratification of the ILO Conventions 138 and 182; and providing direct support for the prevention, withdrawal and rehabilitation of 1,355 children in respect to child labour.

A tracking system was also developed to monitor the progress of these children and a National Plan of Action on Child Labour was drafted. In 2004, the Child Care and Protection Act was passed, reflecting the tenets of the ILO Conventions, and thereby addressing the issue of child labour through legislation.

"These activities could not have been achieved without the support of the public," Mr. Kellier said, adding that an education campaign had been mounted to increase awareness of the issue.
"We are committed to continuing this drive against child labour and enlisting the full support of the people of Jamaica in this effort. In this regard, the public must be urged to report all incidents of child labour," the Minister emphasized.

Mr. Kellier said it was clear that solving the problem of child labour required an integrated combination of policies and programmes and that these should not provide superficial treatment, but must address the causes of child labour.

He noted that the theme of the consultation, 'Tackling Child Labour Through Education', pointed to a key dimension in the effort to reduce and eliminate child labour.

Deputy Director of the ILO's Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Mary Read, said the ILO global report indicated that the number of children engaged in child labour worldwide had declined by 11 per cent over the last four years, while the number of children engaged in hazardous work had decreased by 26 per cent. The report also noted that the number of working children in the five to 14 age cohort had declined by 33 per cent.

"The new data gives us all not only hope, but proof that the worse forms of child labour can be tackled," Mrs. Read stressed.

Globally, she said, the ILO's International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour was successfully bringing together government agencies, workers' organizations, employers' organisations, international agencies, the donor community and others, to combat child labour.

"There is now widespread acceptance of the fact that child labour is not a fatality of poverty, solutions do exist," she pointed out, and congratulated the Jamaican government for ratifying the ILO's Convention 138, which addresses the minimum age for admission to employment, as well as Convention 182, which speaks to the worst forms of child labour.

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