Written by Pavani Hapuarachchi
12 Jun, 2020 | 2:26 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): To ensure the safety of children with regard child labour, plans are underway to raise the minimum age of being recruited to 16 from the current age of 14, the Ministry of Labour said on Friday.
Although the crisis of Child Labour is not so severe in Sri Lanka, there are still reports of children being engaged in various acts of labour; especially in unregulated forms of work.
“The minimum age of eligibility to start working in Sri Lanka is 14 years. Under Education regulations Children should be engaged in education at least until 16 years of age, Accordingly, there is a contradiction between the Education and Labour regulations in the country at present,” told R.P.A. Wimalaweera, the Commissioner-General of Labour on Friday (June 12).
Joining an interview with News 1st to mark the World Day Against Child Labour which falls on June 12, Wimalaweera said, “Under the guidance of the Minister of Labour, the legal framework is currently being laid, to raise the minimum age of eligibility to start working to 16 years.”
Based on the Global Child Labour Database of the UNICEF, last updated in March 2019, Sri Lanka’s Child Labour percentage between 2010 to 2018, stands at 0. (Click here to access the database)
Children are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development; which violates “The Convention on the Rights of the Child” under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Based on UN statistics, already, there are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work.
In the world’s poorest countries, slightly more than 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labour; with Sub-Saharan Africa having the largest proportion of 29% of children in child labour, according to UNICEF.
Furthermore, the resulting economic crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push millions of vulnerable children into child labour.
In July 2019, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the “International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour”, and called on the International Labour Organization to take the lead in its implementation.
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