1. Child Labor in Ghana
In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 12.5 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Ghana were working.703 The Core Welfare Indicators Survey conducted in 1997 estimated that 9.2 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 14 were working.704 Approximately 8.2 percent of boys and 10.2 percent of girls in this age group were working.705 A majority of child workers are found in rural areas.706
The majority of working children are unpaid and can be found on family farms and family enterprises.707 While traditionally, working on the family farm was seen as a means of training for adulthood, deteriorating economic conditions have led to an increase in the number of children working on a regular basis to earn a living for themselves or supplement family income. These children either forgo an education or combine work and school.708
Deteriorating economic conditions in rural areas and conflicts in northern regions of the country have led to increased migration of children into urban areas, particularly Accra.709 This migration has reportedly led to an increase in the numbers of street children and working children in urban areas.710 In August 2000, Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare reported that out of 800,000 children working countrywide, 18,000 children were working in Accra. Seventy percent of these urban working children are estimated to receive no schooling, while 21 percent complete only their primary education.711
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) report that children as young as 7 years old work as trolley and head porters, domestic servants, street vendors, rock breakers in quarries, small scale miners, farmers and fishermen. In May 2000, the acting executive director of the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) expressed concern about the increasing use of child labor in inland fishing enterprises, especially in villages around the Volta Lake and the Volta River.712 Newspapers have reported that 10 to 12 year old boys often work for fisherman in exchange for a yearly payment to their families. This practice was found to be rampant in 156 fishing villages along the Afram River and in settlements along the Volta Lake in the Afram Plains.713 Small children are used to dive down to the riverbeds for oysters, and there have been a number of reports of children drowning.714
Some girl children migrate from rural areas to urban centers to serve as kayayoos , girl porters who carry goods on their heads as petty traders.715 The girls are usually come from villages and towns in the poorer northern regions and end up living on the streets or in poor accommodations.716 Children as young as 8 years old work as kayas . Earnings in the kayayoo trade are approximately 2,000-2,500 cedis a day (approximately US$1), with younger girls getting 50–100 cedis (US$0.02-US$0.05) per load and older girls and women getting 200-500 (US$0.10–US$0.25) cedis per load.717 Kayayoos suffer from various skeletal and muscular problems which they often address by taking excessive drugs to numb the pain. Some kayayoos also reportedly practice prostitution to add to their earnings.718
Ghana is both a source and a destination for trafficked children.719 In a report commissioned by the International Labor Organization’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC), a Ghanaian NGO found that the majority of trafficked victims are girls between the ages of 10 to 15 years who either dropped out of primary school or had not attended school at all.720 These girls, largely from rural areas, are frequently used as household help in Accra and the other major cities. Major complaints included mistreatment and poor working conditions, including little or no remuneration; beatings, rape and forced marriages were also reported.721 Trafficking also occurs between Ghana and neighboring countries and is multi-directional. Cases of cross-border trafficking and abduction have been reported between Ghana and Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria, with boys and girls lured into prostitution or hard labor.722
There are reports of girls (some as young as 10 years old) being bound to shrines as part of a traditional practice known as the Trokosi system.723 In 1998, the Parliament passed legislation that banned the practice of Trokosi .724
2. Children’s Participation in School
In 1998, the primary net attendance rate for children between the ages of 6 and 11 years was 76 percent.725 Low attendance in school has been noted as a particular problem in certain areas of the country and among certain groups of children. In 1998, there was an 87 percent primary attendance rate in urban areas compared to a primary attendance rate of 72 percent in rural areas.726 Teachers’ salaries are considered inadequate and it is difficult to attract teachers to rural areas.727 Many teachers in rural areas earn their primary income through farming. In the past, teachers sometimes used students as a source of farm labor, a practice that has become less common with adverse publicity.728 In order to attract teachers to rural areas and supplement low salaries, the government has offered accelerated promotion and perks, such as bicycles, to teachers willing to take assignments in such areas.729
Expenses such as school fees and taxes, and associated costs such as books and uniforms, reportedly make education costly and preclude some children from attending school.730 In 1992, education costs accounted for more than 15 percent of a household’s mean per capita expenditure.731
Although there is little or no systematic discrimination against female children in terms of basic education, societal and economic pressures increase girls’ dropout rates.732 The government has actively campaigned for the education of girls and in 1997 established a girls’ education unit within the basic education division of the Ghana Education Service. According to government estimates released in September 1999, the percent of girls nationwide enrolled in primary school had increased from 75 percent in 1992 to 81 percent in 1997.733
3. Child Labor Law and Enforcement
The government strengthened legal protection of children by passing the Children’s Act of 1998 (Act 560). Act 560 incorporates the existing labor legislation’s minimum age for employment of 15 and prohibits exploitative child labor, defined as labor that deprives the child of health, education, and development.734 The act sets a minimum age of 18 years for hazardous employment and a minimum age of 13 years for light work.735 Act 560 requires employers to provide apprentices with a safe and healthy work environment, along with training and tools.736
Ghana’s Constitution prohibits slavery and the law also prohibits forced or bonded labor. Nevertheless, NGOs criticize the government for failing to put resources into enforcing these provisions, especially with respect to the trafficking of children.737 They allege that law enforcement agencies have regarded trafficking cases as falling under the domain of the Department of Social Welfare and that police in frontier posts lack the training and logistical support needed to take enforcement action.738 It is often difficult for law enforcement officials to identify victims due to the complex family relations that exist in some trafficking situations.739
Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare are responsible for enforcement of child labor regulations and make spot checks when they receive allegations of violations. However, violators of regulations that prohibit heavy labor and night work for children are only occasionally punished in practice.740
Ghana ratified ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor on June 13, 2000.741
4. Addressing Child Labor and Promoting Schooling
a. Child Labor Initiatives
In March 2000, the Government of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ILO-IPEC to initiate activities in Ghana. With financial support from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), and in collaboration the Government of Ghana, ILO-IPEC country program aims to formulate a national policy and plan of action to combat child labor, with a focus on the worst forms of child labor, and has established a national steering committee.742 Ghana is also receiving technical support from the ILO-IPEC Statistical Information and Monitoring Program (SIMPOC), with funding from USDOL, to conduct a national survey on child labor.743
In 1999, Ghana joined eight other countries participating in phase one of a 3-year ILO- IPEC regional project to combat the trafficking of children for labor exploitation in West and Central Africa. The project, with USDOL financial support, was a follow-up to the July 1998 subregional workshop on trafficking in child domestic workers sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the ILO. As a participant in this project, Ghana is developing concrete measures against trafficking of children at a variety of levels. Efforts will be made to channel identified children to NGOs which provide social protection and support services for victims of trafficking. During the project’s second phase, demonstration projects will provide rehabilitation services for child victims, raise public awareness, strengthen partner organizations, encourage multi-disciplinary preventive measures, and develop inter-country cooperation efforts.744
The Government of Ghana has initiated a number of policies and programs aimed at curbing the vulnerability of children to all forms of child labor exploitation. These include the promulgation of the Children’s Act of 1998, the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) program, and the Universal Children’s Law enacted out of the Constitutional provision on Children’s Rights. Furthermore, the Ministry for Employment and Social Welfare is attempting to address the problems of street children through the “Jobs for Africa” program, through direct grants to street children, and through tax exemptions for NGOs, which work with children in need.745 In addition, numerous donors have supported the FCUBE program that was designed to increase access for children of school-going age, targeting especially ages 6 through 9.746
NGOs, churches, and other religious organizations have a variety of programs targeting needy children. The Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC) was established in response to the 1995 report by the Government of Ghana to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.747 The GNCRC works with NGOs, the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, and the Ghana National Commission on Children on such issues as HIV/AIDS, child labor, basic education, health, environment, and advocacy for children. The GNCRC has conducted an educational series on child labor, including television commercials aimed at informing the public.748 It has trained NGOs in the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.749
Both the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the largest trade union confederation in Ghana, and the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) have devoted increased attention to the problem of child labor in Ghana. The TUC held a leadership seminar on child labor and street children in June 2000.750 In collaboration with the ILO, the GEA organized four regional workshops during July 2000 on combating the worst forms of child labor.751 With help from the ILO, the GEA is also undertaking a research project on child labor, which will include an establishment survey to complement the household survey that SIMPOC and the Ghana Statistical Services are conducting.752
A Ghanaian NGO reporting for the ILO on trafficking in children noted that while many NGOs focused on street children and their rehabilitation, there were no specific programs by either the government or NGOs to address the concerns of trafficking victims.753 The Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) has noted that the problems of street children, child labor, and prostitution are worsening. Yet, judges are often unfamiliar with the law or with sentencing guidelines for cases of child rape and defilement. The GNCC sees the education of law enforcement officials as critical and is working with police units to familiarize them with the Children’s Act of 1998.754
b. Educational Alternatives
Six years of primary education and three years of secondary education (through grade nine) are free and compulsory in Ghana.755 The government continues to strive to provide free compulsory basic education through the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) program for grades one through nine, and aspires for the attainment of this goal by the year 2005.756 The FCUBE program is supported by a variety of donors and is reviewed every 2 years.757
The government has supported a variety of initiatives to make education more affordable. The “Needy Child Fund” helps up to 50 children in each of Ghana’s 110 districts qualify for help with basic school needs.758 The government has allocated 2 million cedis (approximately US$340) to each district for this program.759 The Ghana Education Service (GES) has emphasized girls’ education and that enrollment for girls has improved.760 The GES has also placed increased emphasis on making sure students progress from one school grade to another.761 The Department of Social Welfare runs some vocational schools for the disadvantaged but, due to budget limitations, does not have formal programs to help these children attend school.762
Districts are responsible for providing school infrastructure and receive assistance from international NGOs and donors to construct new classroom facilities and infrastructure.763 The World Bank is aiding districts to open approximately 80 new primary schools.764 Other NGOs conduct school meal programs, provide in-service training to teachers, provide management training to district education officials, and help families defray the cost of children’s school fees and other expenses.765 The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is also implementing an education program to reduce the dropout rate among girls. USAID reports increased evidence that individual communities are taking an active interest in their schools.766
5. Selected Data on Government Expenditures
The following bar chart presents selected government expenditures expressed as a percentage of gross national product (GNP). The chart considers government expenditures on education, the military, health care, and debt service. Where figures are available, the portion of government spending on education that is specifically dedicated to primary education is also shown.767
While it is difficult to draw conclusions or discern clear correlations between areas of government expenditure as a percentage of GNP and the incidence of child labor in a country, this chart and the related tables presented in Appendix B (Tables 14 through 19) offer the reader a basis for considering the relative emphasis placed on each spending area by the governments in each of the 33 countries profiled in the report.
703 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2000 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000 [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2000 ].
704 Country Statistics in Ghana, Core Welfare Indicators Survey, 1997 (www.ucw-project.org) [hereinafter Core Welfare Indicators Survey, 1997]. This figure includes children who were working only and children who combined work and school.
705 Core Welfare Indicators Survey, 1997 .
706 Sudharshan Canagarajah and Harold Coulombe, Child Labor and Schooling in Ghana (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1997) [hereinafter Child Labor and Schooling in Ghana ].
708 The Ghana National Commission on Children. The First Decade of the Ghana National Commission on Children (Accra: The Ghana National Commission on Children, 1990).
709 Interview with Mrs. Margaret Sackey, executive director, Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC), by U.S. Department of Labor official, Accra, August 4, 2000 [hereinafter Sackey interview].
710 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001), Section 6d [hereinafter Country Reports 2000—Ghana ].
712 Sackey interview. Also cited in Country Reports 2000—Ghana .
713 U.S. Embassy Accra cites June 1999 report in Country Reports 2000—Ghana.
714 Sackey interview.
715 Seema Agarwal et al., Bearing the Weight (Legon: Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, May 1997), 1 [hereinafter Bearing the Weight ].
716 Ibid at 3.
717 Ibid at 10.
718 Nana Araba Apt and Ebenezer Q. Blavo, Street Children and AIDS (Legon: Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, May 1997).
719 Country Reports 2000—Ghana at Section 6f.
720 African Centre for Human Development, Ghana Country Study: Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Accra, Ghana, April 2000, 6 [hereinafter Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labour Exploitation ].
721 Ibid. at 7.
722 Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa (Phase II): Ghana Country Annex , ILO-IPEC, 2000 [hereinafter Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labour Exploitation, Phase II ].
723 Found primarily among the ethnic Ewe group, the practice involves young girls who are indentured by their families to a fetish shrine for several weeks or years as a means of atoning for offenses committed. The girls, known as Trokosi or Fiashidi , become the property of the shrine and are under the direction of the fetish priest. See U.S. Embassy Accra, unclassified portion of telegram no. 002509, October 1, 2001.
724 Country Reports 2000—Ghana at Section 3.
725 USAID, DHS EdData Education Profiles for Africa: Data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, Ghana DHS EdData Education Profile, 1993 and 1998 [hereinafter Ghana DHS EdData Education Profile].
726 Ghana DHS EdData Education Profile.
727 Interview with Emmanuel Acquaye, director of basic education, Ghana Education Service, by U.S. Department of Labor official, Accra, August 1, 2000 [hereinafter Acquaye interview]. Also attending were Chris Dokiuna- Hammond and Yaw Danso, deputy director of basic education.
728 Interview with Janet Leno, senior education specialist, World Bank, by U.S. Department of Labor official, Accra, August 3, 2000.
729 Acquaye interview.
730 Ibid. See Also Child Labor and Schooling in Ghana at 11.
731 Child Labor and Schooling in Ghana at 11.
732 Country Reports 2000—Ghana at Section 5.
733 Ibid. at Section 5.
734 Government of Ghana, Act 560, The Children’s Act, 1998, Part V, Employment of Children, Sub-Part I, Child Labour, 27 [hereinafter The Children’s Act, 1998].
735 Ibid. at Sections 89, 90.
736 Country Reports 2000—Ghana at Section 6d. The Children’s Act 560: Violation of any subpart pertaining to child labor of the Children’s Act 560 is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 10 million cedis or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both. And failure to register children commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 500,000 cedis.
737 Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labour Exploitation at 25.
739 For example, acquaintances of an older age may be referred to as “auntie” even when no blood relation exists.
740 Country Reports 2000—Ghana at Section 6d.
741 For a list of which countries profiled in Chapter 3 have ratified ILO Conventions No. 138 and No. 182, see Appendix C.
742 IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs: National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor [hereinafter National Program on the Elimination of Child Labor].
744 Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation, Phase II.
745 Statement by The Honorable Ms. Ama Benyiwa-Doe, deputy minister for employment and social welfare, delivered at the opening of a photographic exhibition by Catholic Action for Street Children and Street Girls Aid at the British Council, Accra, August 2, 2000.
746 Acquaye interview. Also attending were Chris Dokiuna-Hammond and Yaw Danso, deputy director of basic education.
747 Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child: Membership Directory, 1999-2000 (Accra, Ghana: National Democratic Institute for International Affairs).
748 Interview with Susan Sabaa, national coordinator, Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), by U.S. Department of Labor official, Accra, August 3, 2000.
750 Interview with Kwesi Adu-Amankwah, deputy secretary general, Trade Union Congress (TUC), by U.S. Department of Labor official (Accra, August 1, 2000). Also attending from the TUC were Mr. S. O. Nunoo-Quaye, head of the International Department, and Mr. James Anquandah, deputy head of the Organization Department.
751 Interview with Kwasi Ampadu Yeboah and Alex Frimpong, industrial relations managers, Ghana Employers’ Association, by U.S. Department of Labor official, Accra, August 4, 2000. Regional workshops were held in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, and Tamale.
753 Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labour at 29.
754 Sackey interview.
755 Acquaye interview.
756 U.S. Embassy-Accra, unclassified telegram no. 003474, June 27, 2000 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 003473].
757 Unclassified telegram 003473.
758 Meeting of U.S. Department of Labor official with Mr. Emmanuel Acquaye, director of basic education, Ghana Education Service, August 1, 2000. Also attending were Chris Dokiuna-Hammond and Yaw Danso, deputy director of basic education.
759 Acquaye interview.
761 U.S. Embassy-Accra, unclassified telegram no. 00042, January 2001.
762 Interview with Bridget Katsriku, chief director, Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare (MESW), by U.S. Department of Labor official. Also present were Mr. J. Y. Amankrah, project manager, the SIMPOC child labor survey, and deputy director for statistics, MESW, Accra, August 2, 2000.
763 Plan International, World Vision, and the European Union have helped with the provision of classroom facilities. Acquaye interview.
764 Acquaye interview.
765 Unclassified telegram 003473.
767 See Chapter 1, Section C, 5, for a fuller discussion of the information presented in the box. See also Appendix B for further discussion, and Tables 14 through 19 for figures on government expenditure over a range of years.