We have something to say, if only you will let us!
There have been many discussions, policies and programmes on child labour and child protection over the years. These have led to many interventions in this area. The issue of child labour is still a troubling one resulting in sector players pushing for intensified action from governments of affected countries, the chocolate industry and non-governmental organisations. In all these interactions and efforts, the absence of the representatives of one key stakeholder group has been felt by all. Children, seen as secondary beneficiaries of child labour interventions, have had little or no involvement in the discussions and plans made towards eliminating child labour and promoting child protection.
Taking a cue from the theme for this year’s Universal Children’s Day, “kids take over”, Child Protection Clubs (CPCs) in four communities in the Atwima Mponua district came together to put up a Forum for other children, district and community stakeholders. The members of these clubs, known as anti-child labour ambassadors in their communities, took it upon themselves to give another perspective on the discussion of child labour- that of the child- the victims. With their capacities on full display, CPCs from Pakyi, Akonkye, Saakrom and Kwankyeabo engaged stakeholders present with recitals on child work, child rights and responsibilities, role played poems on child labour by M. Mujeeb and M. Dixit and held a trial for a child labour offender in a drama.
The children took over the stage and led the activity as they made the adults present realize that they have knowledge about child labour because they are the victims of this social disease.
One highlight of the day came from two teenage boys from Akonkye. These boys took the words in the poems by Mujeeb and Dixit and depicted them. Their actions painted a picture of the suffering of child labourers the world over.
CPC members from Saakrom and Kwankyeabo gave recitations on child rights and responsibilities of children and child work respectively.
Another highlight of the day was the trial CPC members from Pakyi held for a child labour offender. The play showed the physical and social consequences of engaging children in hazardous child labour and its legal repercussions.
According to one of the school children who participated in the Forum, Gloria Yeboah from the Nyinahin Basic SChool
“I really appreciate the issues which have been raised by the children through the performances theygave. I have also learnt a lot from it. With the knowledge gained from this Forum, I can talk to my parents, friends, school mates and neighbors on the dangers of child labour.”
According to Madam Comfort Flori Agyei of the Ghana Education Service (GES),
“The Forum is a very educative program that the children organised. They have proven that they have something to say when it comes to issues which affect them.”
After his performance, one CPC member, Joshau Kuma, from Kwankyeabo, had this to say
“today, I spoke about child work. When we are forced to carry out tasks which are beyond our age and strength, it affects our education. I am appealing to adults to prioritize these issues. Every child has dreams. Some of us want to be presidents, ministers, lawyers, among others. Our dreams can only come true if we are allowed to stay in school so we can work towards them. ”
A teacher and CPC Facilitator from Saakrom also had this to say
“This forum has really helped the children in the sense that if their parents go against the law to engage them in child labour, they know they can be penalized. The trial which was staged by the Pakyi CPC has made them aware of their parents’ responsibility to protect them.”