With no official national statistics available, Guyana’s Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle does not believe that Child Labour exists here on a large scale and has challenged persons to point him to instances of child employment in Guyana.
Ogle led children from City schools on a march through the streets of Georgetown on Wednesday to commemorate World Day Against Child Labour, officially observed on June 12th around the world.
Ahead of the march, Mr. Ogle said Guyana does not have a large number of children who are engaged in work instead of attending school.
“Guyana does not have the stats.. we are not burying our heads in the sand to say that child labour doesn’t exist but where could we point to say that there is child labour? Where can we point to say children are working?”
When asked about children who are engaged in retail on a daily basis, Ogle said the definition that are accepted for child labour in 1st world countries are not necessarily the same definition that is accepted for 3rd world countries.
“As long as children are in school that is important. They should be in school and that is compulsory,” he added.
According to the International Labour Organization, the term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children.
Ogle insisted that he is not aware of Child Labour in Guyana although previous surveys have recorded child labour in Guyana’s hinterland and interior areas.
“Can we point to a sawmill or anywhere in Georgetown or the East Coast to say that children are being employed. I am not aware,” he added.
The Ministry of Social Protection, Department of Labour is currently consulting with stakeholders to develop a Policy Document to chart efforts to prevent and eradicate child labour and ensure children stay in school
By the end of the year Guyana should have the policy in place and will likely be the first country in the region to have such a document.
“We want a document to encompass everyone.”
The World Day Against Child Labour is an International Labour Organization-sanctioned holiday first launched in 2002 aiming to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour.