1. Child Labor in Nigeria
In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 24.6 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Nigeria were working.1252 In 1994, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that approximately 24 percent (12 million) of all children under the age of 16 worked.1253
Child labor is found predominately in the informal sector. In rural areas, children are found working in agriculture and on family farms. They are seldom employed by state-owned commercial agriculture plantations, which are responsible for much of the agricultural production for export.1254 In cottage industries and mechanical workshops, children work as apprentices in various crafts or trades such as weaving, tailoring, catering, hairdressing, and auto repair.1255 In urban areas and towns children work on the streets as vendors, car washers, scavengers, beggars, head-load carriers, feet-washers and bus conductors.1256 In 1996, the Child Welfare League reported that in Lagos alone there were 100,000 boys and girls living and working on the streets.1257 In northern Nigeria, children, known as the almajirai , survive on the street by begging.1258
Children in prostitution and trafficking of children are reported in Nigeria. According to a 1998 report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the incidence of child prostitution has been growing.1259 A separate report revealed that 19 percent of the school children and 40 percent of the street children surveyed had been trafficked, and nearly all of the trafficked children were economically active.1260 Trafficked children are employed in agriculture and herding, and as domestic servants, sex workers, drug peddlers, hawkers, petty traders, beggars, car washers, and bus conductors.1261
Child traffickers take advantage of a cultural tradition of “fostering,” where a poor, usually rural family sends a child to live and work with a family in an urban area for educational and employment purposes. Often, children in these situations do not receive any formal education. Instead, they are forced to serve as domestic servants, become street hawkers, or engage in other activities, and many of them are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse by their guardians. There are also credible reports that poor families sell their daughters into marriage under the guise of fostering as a means of supplementing their income.1262
Nigeria is a source, destination, and country of transit for trafficking of children. Children are trafficked to and from Cameroon, Gabon, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Togo and other West African countries to work in agricultural enterprises, as domestic servants, or as prostitutes. Trafficking of children has been particularly pronounced in eastern Nigeria and in some southern states.1263 There are also reports of trafficking of children to non-African countries, such as to the United States and Europe.1264
2. Children’s Participation in School
Recent primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Nigeria.1265 While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect a child’s participation in school.1266 Gross primary school enrollment has declined in Nigeria from approximately 86.2 percent in 1993 to 70.3 percent in 1996.1267 Dropout rates for both males and females in primary school remained high, around 10 to 15 percent between 1990 and 1994 for each level of education.1268 Only 64 percent of the students in primary school completed grade five, and only 43.5 percent continued on to junior secondary school.1269
School quality has reportedly deteriorated in Nigeria, and recent school reforms have been slow to take effect.1270 Teachers are not well trained and are poorly paid, making them less motivated and contributing to poor or irregular school attendance among children.1271
A bias frequently exists against girls’ education, particularly in rural and northern areas of Nigeria. Only 42 percent of rural girls are enrolled in school compared with 72 percent of urban girls.1272 In the north, girls are often withdrawn from school and placed into early marriages, domestic and agricultural labor, or commercial activities such as trading and street vending.1273 In addition, there are reports that school-based gangs target girls, raping or killing them as part of gang activity.1274
3. Child Labor Law and Enforcement
The Labor Act of 1974 prohibits the employment of children under the age of 15 in commerce and industry and restricts labor performed by children to home-based agricultural or domestic work.1275 The Labor Act of 1974 stipulates that children may not be employed in agricultural or domestic work for more than eight hours per day, and that children under the age of 12 cannot be required to lift or carry loads that are likely to harm their physical development.1276 The Labor Act of 1974 also prohibits forced labor.1277
The Ministry of Labor and Productivity’s Inspections Department is responsible for enforcing legal provisions relating to conditions of work and protection of workers.1278 There are, however, fewer than 50 inspectors for the entire country, making it difficult for them to fulfill these responsibilities.1279 Moreover, the Ministry conducts inspections only in the formal business sector, although most child labor occurs in the country’s informal sector.1280
4. Addressing Child Labor and Promoting Schooling
a. Child Labor Initiatives
On August 8, 2000, the Government of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO, becoming a member of the ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC). As part of efforts to address child labor in the country, the Government of Nigeria and IPEC, with funding support of the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), have launched a country program and established a National Steering Committee that includes representatives from the government, labor, industry, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The steering committee is responsible for developing and overseeing implementation of a national plan of action on child labor. In addition, Nigeria has carried out a national child labor survey with technical support from ILO-IPEC’s Statistical Information and Monitoring Program on Child Labor (SIMPOC) and funding from USDOL.1281
Nigeria is also active in an ILO-IPEC regional project, funded by USDOL, to combat trafficking of children for labor exploitation in West and Central Africa. The first phase of the project involved an assessment of the trafficking problem in nine African countries, including Nigeria, and workshops at the national and regional level to review country-level findings. A national plan of action to combat trafficking in Nigeria has been developed by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development with support from ILO-IPEC and the UNICEF.1282 In July 2001, a second phase of the project began focusing on direct action to assist children who are victims of trafficking, raising awareness, strengthening local capacity to address the problem, and enhancing regional cooperation to address trafficking.1283
UNICEF has established a series of programs for street children in Nigeria and launched a collaborative project with ILO-IPEC specifically aiding the almajirai children.1284 The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) funded a study on street children in 1995, which was implemented by the Child Life Line, a local NGO. The Child Life Line opened centers to rehabilitate street children in Lagos based upon its findings, and in 1999, hosted a workshop to help other NGOs set up effective street children focused programs.1285 Many other NGOs, such as the Child Project, Galilee Foundation, Kingi Kids, the Friends of the Disabled, and the Samaritans are also involved in efforts to rescue and rehabilitate street children.1286
b. Educational Alternatives
In September 1999, the president of Nigeria launched the new Universal Basic Education plan that requires the first nine years of schooling to be free and compulsory.1287 The plan aims to improve the relevance, efficiency, and quality of schools and to create programs to address the basic education needs of nomadic and out-of-school children, youth and adults.1288 In its 2000 budget, the Government of Nigeria budgeted 46 billion naira (US$460 million) to support this plan.1289
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare has worked in collaboration with UNICEF and the Centre for Non-Formal Education and Training (CENFET) on a non-formal education curriculum for girls, children without access to school, and school dropouts, particularly those from Koranic schools where girls account for 60 percent of all dropouts.1290 These efforts have contributed to an increase in enrollment, particularly among girls, and enhanced opportunities for non-formal and nomadic education.1291 In a pilot project in Sokoto state in Northern Nigeria, enrollment in basic education rose from 914 pupils in 1996 to 115,525 pupils in 2000, of which 73,291 had passed their exams.1292 The project recorded a less than 0.2 percent dropout rate, with fewer girls dropping out than boys.1293
From 1989 to 1995, public spending on education as a percentage of gross national product (GNP) in Nigeria has ranged from 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent.1294
5. Selected Data on Government Expenditures
The following bar chart presents selected government expenditures expressed as a percentage of 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.1295
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.
1252 World Development Indicators 2000 .
1253 The Progress of Nigerian Children , UNICEF/Nigeria Federal Office of Statistics, 1995.
1254 U.S. Embassy-Lagos, unclassified telegram no. 003774, April 11, 1995 [hereinafter unclassified telegram no. 003774].
1255 U.S. Embassy-Lagos, unclassified telegram no. 002617, August 15, 2000 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 002617].
1257 Child Welfare League of Nigeria, Alternative Report on the Implementation of CRC, submission to the CRC, September-October 1996 [hereinafter Alternative Report ], as cited in The Worst Forms of Child Labor: Country- Wise Data October 2000 (New Delhi: The Global March Against Child Labour, 2000).
1258 Facsimile from Jon P. Dorschner, U.S. Embassy-Lagos, to U.S. Department of Labor official (April 21, 1995).
1259 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000—Nigeria ] at Section 6d.
1260 U.S. Embassy-Lagos, unclassified telegram no. 000569, February 18, 2000 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 000569].
1261 See Unclassified telegram 000569. See also “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria” (Geneva: ILO-IPEC, 1999) [hereinafter “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria,” National Program on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria, project document.
1262 “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria.”
1263 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria at Section 6f.
1265 In 1990, the gross primary attendance rate was 83.4 percent, and the net primary attendance rate was 54.4 percent. See USAID, GED 2000: Global Education Database [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000.
1266 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, See Chapter 1, Introduction.
1267 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Statistics [CD- ROM], Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment—A Decade of Education , Country Report, Nigeria (Paris, 2000) [hereinafter Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment—Nigeria ] .
1268 Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment—Nigeria ; see also Education for All (EFA) 2000, Country Report, Nigeria [online] (www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/country.html) [hereinafter EFA 2000].
1272 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria at Section 5, 6f.
1273 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria ; see also Alternative Report .
1274 Electronic correspondence from Women’s Health Organization of Nigeria to U.S. Department of Labor official (December 16, 1999).
1275 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria at Section 6d.
1276 U.S. Embassy-Lagos, unclassified telegram no. 002617, August 15, 2000.
1277 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria at Section 6c.
1278 Ibid at Section 6d.
1281 “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria.”
1283 “Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa (Phase II),” Project Document (ILO-IPEC, 2000), 3-4.
1284 “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria.”
1285 Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment—Nigeria ; see also EFA 2000).
1286 EFA 2000 at Section 12.2.9, “Rescuing, Rehabilitation and Returning Street Children” (www2.unesco.org/wef/ countryreports/nigeria/rapport_3_1.html); cited October 30, 2001.
1287 “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria”; see also EFA 2000.
1289 Felix Machi Njoku, “Nigeria Initiates an Ambitious Literacy Program,” Pan-African News, Johannesburg, December 8, 1999.
1290 Country Reports 2000—Nigeria at Section 5.
1291 ILO-IPEC, “National Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria,” 1999, 3. See also Country Reports 1999—Nigeria at Section 5.
1292 “IPEC Summary of Individual Country Programs—Nigeria.”
1293 Ibid. See also Country Reports 1999—Nigeria .
1294 World Development Indicators 2000 .
1295 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.