Child Labour Education Campaign Concludes
Today, the Ministry of Labour and Local Government held a closing ceremony for its Child Labour Education and Awareness Campaign. The endeavor sought to shed light on the need to eradicate child labour in Belize and sensitize the public on the Belize National Child Labour Policy and Strategy 2022-2025. Allison Parker, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund representative in Belize, spoke about the importance of adopting policies geared at eliminating children in the workforce and how Belize’s national strategy was crafted.
Allison Parker, Belize Representative, UNICEF:“Belize was the fifth country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of the key articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child is to address child labour especially hazardous child labour. And so when we look at the country of Belize the national child labour policy that was developed with the support of UNICEF and ILO together with a multisectoral approach from the various government line ministries for 2022/2025 identified that over a hundred thousand young people between the ages of five to seventeen are employed in some form of child labour or another and I think that’s a concern for us. Collectively as development partners together with the government I think that’s something that we need to address. So when we look at it and today I’m really pleased that we see partners in the agricultural sector, the sugar plantation, the citrus they’re coming here and signing and MOU to say we will keep an eye and make sure that children are not exploited and children are not abused in our industry and that’s I think I will want to commend the Government of Belize for really moving that agenda forward and ensuring that our partners in the private sector are part of this agenda. So the campaign was done basically in schools and again the Ministry of Education was a fundamental part of this and as you could hear from the conversations partnerships is going to be key if we’re going to move any of these indicators forward. No one agency, no one entity, no one government line ministry can do it, it’s a collaborative work. So getting the children first of all to understand what is child labour so they themselves can be able to support their peers. They know a lot of things that we the adults never know, the teachers don’t know, the parents don’t know but if they are aware then they become peer to peer support in communities at household level to identify when their friends, their neighbor or anybody else is exposed to some form of child labour or the other and that was the whole campaign. So the campaign covered nineteen schools. We were able to reach one thousand seven hundred and fifty both students and teachers with the knowledge and awareness and the using them as champions to cascade it down to other areas.”
Minister of Labour and Local Government, Oscar Requena, also weighed in on the significance of the campaign to Belize’s international commitments.
Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation: “What we are seeing are the highlights. You know we brought together the students who participated, the winning entries. We had paintings, we had billboards, we had animation video, several activities that were carried out and today what we wanted to do was really to highlight that wonderful work that took place across the country and to highlight the winners. Of course we want to thank and congratulate all the students, all the teachers, all the principals, everybody who collaborated. This work is a joint effort by our Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government and of course UNICEF, ILO Belize, the National Committee for Families and Children, our National Committee to End Child Labour, among other agencies. So it’s a collaborative work and today is a day of celebration to celebrate the achievements of those students and really to create a greater awareness to all Belizeans that we must all work together to end child labour and to ensure that we create the opportunities for our young children to be able to grow healthy, to be nurtured, get a good education and to become good productive citizens. I think it’s important that we highlight that last year you know we presented our National Child Labour Policy and strategy and certainly our goal and objectives are to ensure that by 2025 we eliminate all forms of child labour in Belize. We’re certainly working very hard and this is all in line with SDGs in which we have made international commitments and we have an obligation as a country to work together to achieve those goals.”
The campaign was a joint effort between the ministry, the National Child Labour Committee, the National Committee for Families and Children, the International Labor Organization, UNICEF, MOECST, and other stakeholders.