Last Updated: Monday, 23 May 2016, 07:53 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Vanuatu

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Vanuatu, 29 August 2006, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Vanuatu are unavailable.4913 However, there are reports that many children assist their parents in family-owned agricultural production.4914

Access to school is limited,4915 and there is no constitutional guarantee mandating that education be either compulsory or free.4916 School fees can be as high as USD 400 a year,4917 which may amount to 13 percent of per capita GDP.4918 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 113 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 94 percent.4919 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Vanuatu.4920 As of 1999, 72 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.4921 The educational system is complicated by the use of 1 or 2 official languages in the classroom, while there are over 100 vernaculars used over many islands.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Under the Labor Code, children below the age of 12 are prohibited from working outside family-owned operations involved in agricultural production.4922 Children between the ages of 12 and 18 are restricted from working by occupation category and labor conditions, including working at night or in the shipping industry.4923

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Vanuatu. Forced labor is prohibited by law.4924 Vanuatu's Penal Code prohibits procuring, aiding or facilitating the prostitution of another person or sharing in the proceeds of prostitution.4925 No armed forces are maintained by the Government of Vanuatu. There were no reports of persons under 18 years in the security or paramilitary forces in Vanuatu.

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Vanuatu's Cultural Center, in collaboration with NGOs, is currently working with the Ministry of Education on primary school curriculum reform, in an effort to teach in the vernacular languages, improve relevance of education, and increase literacy levels.4926 The government is also working with UNICEF through the Ministry of Health, other government agencies, NGOs, and Pacific Island Regional Organizations to address issues of early childhood education.4927

4913 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report for information about sources used. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section.

4914 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Vanuatu, Washington, D.C, February 28, 2005, Section 6 d; available from

4915 Ibid., Section 5. See also ADB, Millennium Development Goals in the Pacific Relevance and Progress, 2003 [cited March 18, 2004], 54; available from

4916 Right to Education, Constitutional Guarantees: Vanuatu, Right to Education, [database online] [cited June, 2005]; available from See also Right to Education, Gap Between Promise and Performance, Right to Education, [database online] [cited June 2005]; available from See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Vanuatu, Section 5.

4917 UNESCO, Education ou aliénation?, [online] [cited June, 2005]; available from URL_ID=21208&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.

4918 UNDP, Human Development Fact Sheet for Vanuatu, 2005; available from

4919 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, (Gross and Net enrolment Ratios, primary; accessed October 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rate in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4920 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

4921 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

4922 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Vanuatu, Section 6d.

4923 Ibid., Section 6d.

4924 Ibid., Section 6c.

4925 Criminal Code of Vanuatu, in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online]; available from

4926 UNESCO, Education ou aliénation?

4927 UNICEF, Assistance to Pacific Island Countries, [online] [cited June, 2005], [hardcopy on file]; available from

Search Refworld