BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Child labour is a major challenge for the attainment of the goals of Universal Basic Education Programme in Nigeria
Child labour is defined as, the participation of young children under the age of 15 years in the labour force, with the aim to earn a living or to support household income (Grootaert and Kanbur, 1995). In most developing countries, I in every 5 children work; and I in every 3 children work in Africa (Nigeria inclusive), though there are rates across these regions (World Bank, 2007).
Child labour is widespread and has been on the increasing in Nigeria, where 45 percent of the total population, of over 140 million people, has been fopund to be children under the age of 15 years (PRB, 2009) (population Reference Bureau, 2009).
A huge 15 million children, under the age of 15 years, are engaged in one form of labour or another in Nigeria. A majority of these children are exposed to long hours of work in very dangerous and unhealthy environments children in Nigeria are employed in public places and markets as street vendors (64%) beggars and shoe shiners (4%), car washers/watchers (6%), scavengers (5%), and feet washer (8%). In northern Nigeria, children who survive on the street by begging are referred to as almajirai. The rise in the rate of child labour in the country might have been a consequence of the demand for cheap labour and poverty (UNICEF, 2006), although, children have always worked in Nigeria.
The philosophy of most cultures in Nigeria, have encouraged children to work with their families, in order to learn skills they would need in adulthood. However, children today are forced to work as a survival strategy for themselves and their family. The money earned by child labourers has formed a significant part of poor families’ income.
The issue of child labour has attracted increasing attention in the part decade from policy makers, advocates and researchers.
Child labour is a persistent problem found throughout most of the developing world, and to a lesser extent in developed countries. The availability of detailed and reliable child labour statistics and their analysis on a continuing basis are particularly important for establishing policy priorities and targets formulating and implementing interventions and monitoring policies, regulations and programs aimed not only at the minimization of the negative consequences of child labour in the short term, but most importantly at the eventual elimination of the practice.
Child labour and low school attendance is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing countries. Africa and Asia together account for over 90% of total child employment. This is especially prevalent in rural areas where the capacity to enforce minimum age requirement for schooling and work is lacking. Schooling problems also contribute to child labour whether it is the inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality education which spurs parents to enter their children more profitable pursuits. Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social, roles in certain countries further limit educational
attainment and increase child labour. The gender roles that a society assigns to its children will have a determining effect on their future. Their access to food and education, their labour force participation, their status in relationships and their physical and psychological health.
Child labour acts as a major hurdle for ensuring free, quality education for all children over 246 million girls and boys around the world are working instead of attending school and enjoying their childhood of which Nigeria account for about 6.1% (15m).
Child labour are predominantly dound in the informal sector of Nigeria with family characteristics as a very important determining factor of children’s educational attainment and labour in Nigeria (Obayelu and Okoruwa, 2009).
The future implication of the exploitation of child labour will not only damage the children concerned but also inhibits the emergence of a skilled workforce, that will force Nigeria into a cycle of impoverishment.
It will lead to high child mortality rate as a result of working for young, for too many hours and in hazardous conditions. By the time such children reach adulthood, they are often damaged. Physically, emotionally, morally and intellectually and would have lost the opportunity for an education that would open up a better futures and the amount of schooling in children today determines the wage they command as adult tomorrow.
The federal government of Nigeria has developed a number of education policies and programmes, such as Universal Primary Education Basic Education (UBE) in order to nip in the bud this multi-faceted problem of child labour, problem of school dropouts, the dwindling enrollment in primary and secondary schooling, and educational deterioration generally in Nigeria.
There is therefore an urgent need to pay more attention to the early years of children’s lies against this background, this paper sought to examine critically child labour and its impact on UBE programmes in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State of Nigeria, a peculiar area with farming as key occupation and dominated by illiterate,peasant farmers and polygamy with too many number of children, still a celebrated norm.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The number of children of school age engaged in commercial activities ranging from begging to hawking around the major parks, markets and public places at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, raises more questions than answers to any right thinking person.
More, so, these school aged children mostly from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, seem to have spread and dominated scene also at the major markets, parts, and public places at virtually all the cities in the South East-Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Awka, Owerri.
The question now are:
i. What factors are responsible for this high level of child labour in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State?
ii. What is the impact of this high level of child labour on the progress of UBE programme in schools in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State.
These and more necessitate the research work/investigation
THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this research work is therefore to find out and
bring to light the following;
i. The economic factors responsible for high level of child labour in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State.
ii. The educational factors that promote child labour in Abakaliki urban Ebonyi State
iii. The social factors that encourage child labour in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State.
The following research questions were developed to guide this
1. What are the economic factors responsible for high level of child labour in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State?
2. What are the educational factors that promote child labour in Abakaliki urban Ebonyi State?
3. What are the social factors responsible for high level of child labour in the area?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The researcher has the belief that of the findings, recommendations and conclusions in this study are diligently executed, objectively considered and implemented by all stakeholders and the general public, a new awareness will be experienced in Abakaliki urban, Ebonyi State and beyond on the evil consequences of child labour.
Secondly, to the policy makers, the study has policy implications for child labour regulations and poverty alleviation in Ebonyi State in particular where many children from poor households contribute to the economic sustenance of the family.
It will also highlight the progress and limitations of the UBE programme so far in Ebonyi State with the aim of proffering more lasting solutions.
To the implementers, the teachers, it will ensure smoother work process and greater productivity since efforts wasted at re-teaching unstable student population will be channeled into more useful learning.