More than one million Colombian children and minors between the ages of five and 17 are working as child labourers, said a recent study
In total, some 1,091,000 children – or one in 10 – are working as child labourers in Colombia, and half of all those who do so do not receive any kind of payment, according to a National Bureau of Statistics report on June 12.
On the same day, another government body, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) called attention to the practice as part of the United Nations’ International Day Against Child Labour.
“Interruption (of children’s) academic process and even dropping out of school completely are facts that perpetuate poverty and reduce the chances of progress for every child, and therefore constitute one of the most worrying consequences of child labour,” the ICBF said in a statement.
The International Labour Organisation has dedicated this year’s Day Against Child Labour to strengthening social protection and to eradicating the practice.
In Colombia, the Ministry of Labour, the ICBF and the Telefonica Foundation are working to eradicate child labour, the ICBF statement added.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of child labour in the last quarter of 2013 decreased by 0.5 percent to 9.7 percent from the last quarter of 2012.
Colombian Labour Minister Juan Carlos Cortes told Caracol Radio that while the figure has dropped significantly in recent years, it is still too high.
“This society is built from childhood and so all our children should have the opportunity and the right to education and social services, and are not forced into child labour.”
Another hopeful sign is that 69.7 percent of child labourers still receive some kind of formal education, but 30.3 percent do not, the Bureau’s report showed.
Shops, hotels and restaurants, and manufacturing are the three sectors that have the largest number of child labourers in major Colombian cities, according to the report.
By Mark Kennedy