KwaZulu-Natal’s IWC for Education, Quasi Mshengu, says recent floods have left many students orphaned, which could force them to work as children. Mshengu took part in a panel discussion at the Fifth Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor in Durban.
Mshengu believes that in South Africa child labor and lack of education are primarily to blame for historical injustice. He argues that children working in agriculture are forced to work because of social disparities.
However, he says South Africa has made progress in keeping children in school, adding that statistics show that more than 90% of children in the country now attend school.
The United Nations (UN) says statistics show that child labor has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Child labor worldwide:
Child labor worldwide from SABC Digital News
Educators and education unions in different countries have worked hard to get children who dropped out of the pandemic to return to school.
Teachers from different countries say the COVID-19 pandemic is a major obstacle to programs that keep children in school.
Malawi teachers’ coordinator Pilirani Kamaliza says many children in his country have dropped out of school and girls have been forced to marry to support their families during the pandemic.
He says they are working with educators to reintegrate students back into schools.
“In 2019, since the start of our project before COVID-19, we have recorded very encouraging results in terms of the return of children who have dropped out of school, but also the prevention of children who have attended school. We train teachers, as well as conduct remedial classes for those children who have been selected from child labor, and those children who are already in school but are at risk.
SA is making progress to keep children in school
Mshengu says historical injustices are largely to blame for child labor and lack of education in South Africa.
He says children working in agriculture are forced to work because of social disparities.
However, he says South Africa has succeeded in keeping children in school. Mshengu says statistics show that more than 90% of children in the country now go to school.
“Those children who go and work on farmland, they don’t do it on their farm. They are forced to go to work on farms, well-established, for cheap labor. So we are dealing not only with child labor, but also with the problem of cheap labor as a result of these historical injustices that I spoke about. ”
Save the Children also expressed concern about the safety of children after the flood:
Mshengu says recent floods have left many students orphaned, which could force them to work as children.
“We are now sitting with students who have nothing. They have no families, they have no homes. They are currently in public halls, and these are students who, if we do not do something drastic to protect them, they will be forced into child labor. Now he calls on all people to make sure that we join hands so that they do not have to go to forced labor to earn a living. “
Educators and education unions say all children need to be protected and provided with a quality education.