Preventing child labour on the island of Nias
In Nias, Northern Sumatra, ACTED held two workshops based on the role of employers in the fight against some of the worst forms of child labour. 58 representatives of local businesses and the government were present to take part in these workshops.
Today, 32% of the population in Nias lives below the poverty line. This has had a significant effect on child labour, as there is a high incidence of children working in dangerous conditions at the expense of their education and local development. ACTED and its local partner, Pusat Kajian dan Perlindungan Anak (PKPA), with the support of EuropeAid, are currently implementing a two-year program to combat child labor through improved local regulations, business codes of conduct, and public awareness.
The employment of children in dangerous conditions is prohibited by the International Labour Organisation. However, in Nias, a lack of awareness and commitment to tackle the problem among local businesses has proved to be a key constraint in preventing children from working in dangerous conditions, such as in local mining, agricultural, fishing and construction industries.
During these workshops, business representatives were made aware of the implications of child labour and were also taught about national and international standards for the employment of children. The representatives present demonstrated their commitment to adhering to these regulations with regard to professional work ethic and code of conduct. Awareness raising sessions are also being held for the local communities as well as the local authorities.
ACTED worked with Mr. Fatolosa Hulu, Chairman of studies at Nias University, who served as an influential speaker among the local business community present at the workshops. In addition, other key government representatives were in attendance to discuss the issues and challenges at hand. Fishing, specifically diving for lobsters, has been identified as a dangerous activity in which children are often employed; Indra, a fishing representative from Northern Nias, said “During these workshops, we realised the difference between what forms of child labour are acceptable and what are not acceptable.”
The initial ethics training for businesses was followed by a workshop in both districts which culminated in the signing of a code of conduct, developed with the participation of the business representatives themselves. This code of conduct outlined the local regulations evoked during the workshops and serves to demonstrate the commitment of the local professionals to adhering to them. ACTED and PKPA, as well as the local authorities present, served as witnesses and co-signatories. ACTED business outreach staff will continue to promote the code of conduct among other local businesses until November 2013.
To celebrate National Children’s Day on the 23rd July, ACTED and PKPA organised a series of cultural events for the 200 children from the North and West districts of Nias. These included singing, folk dancing, poetry recitals, and a drawing competition related to the theme “preventing child labour”.
“In my drawing, I drew my friends that can’t go to school because they have to work. I hope that one day they will be able to go to school like me”, said Roberkat, an eleven-year old girl present at the event.
The efforts of ACTED and PKPA to raise awareness among local actors aim to gain the support of these actors in order to prevent child labour. In addition, the objective is to reinforce the government’s regulation for businesses, which are in turn targeted with training and a voluntary code of conduct to prevent the recruitment of children.
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