Implementing the rights of the child: a comparative study of child labour in Rubaga Division and Sibanga Sub-County, Manafwa District.
Waburoko, Benjamin Mabonga
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The research set out to investigate the challenges of implementing the rights of the child as laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The research focus was on forms of child labour in Rubaga division in Kampala district and Sibanga sub-county in Manafwa district. Despite Uganda’s ratification of key international and regional human rights instruments to protect children from child labour, there are visible cases of child labourers in both urban and rural areas of the country. The objective of the study therefore was to find out why child labour is increasing in Uganda despite the increasing legislations against it. A comparative research design was used focusing on forms of child labour in an urban setting of Rubaga and the rural Sibanga in Manafwa district. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of research were employed. Primary information was collected from parents, working children and key informants especially those working with and for children. The data collection methods included field Observations, Individual and Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions with children and adults; review of related literature and content materials on child labour and statistical information. The findings of this study indicate that child labour is a big concern in Uganda with many children working. Children in the two areas of study are engaged mainly in the informal sector, domestic service, entertainment, cottage industries especially in urban areas, petty trade and construction work. Child labour in Uganda is as a result of poverty, the increasing role of HIV/AIDS, the increasing urban culture and consumerism, societal attitudes of looking at child labour as a normal practice, parental neglect, cultural rigidities, lack of social protection nets and peer influence among working children. Child labour has devastating effects on working children that include, school dropout, physical and sexual abuse of working children, intergenerational poverty as well as exploitation of children. The study established a number of challenges in the elimination of child labour. These included persistent poverty, existing gaps and contradictions in legislations against child labour, difficulty in distinguishing child labour from child work and institutional weaknesses to implement child labour programs. There were a number of recommendations made by respondents to reduce child labour forms. These were stepping up efforts to reduce poverty at household level, enforcing compulsory education at lower levels, awareness creation and sensitization on child labour, harmonizing legal frameworks to conform to ILO Conventions, establishing and strengthening labour inspection, generating more data on child labour to inform interventions, and strengthening Institutional Framework and Capacity of key departments and duty bearers A number of conclusions were drawn from this study. First, as long as poverty levels remain high in the country, all efforts aimed at fighting child labour will remain on paper. Uganda has good laws for children which need a lot of attention to be enforced by key duty bearers. However, there is a lot of laxity and lenience on the side of implementers let alone the corruption tendencies. Ugandans are aware of the rights of the child and those who are employing young girls as maids are hiding away from the public eye. For effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child against child labour, the research recommends strengthening all institutions that are mandated to protect children rights. Government should work in partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to sensitise the population on how to eliminate child labour and the general promotion of human rights. Government programs like Universal Primary Education, Universal Secondary Education should be embraced by all Ugandans in an effort to address the problem of child labour. Birth registration and harmonization of the child related laws should be undertaken to address gaps in legislations.