Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Botswana

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Botswana, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca07c.html [accessed 27 December 2014]
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.

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

The Government of Botswana has been implementing a 10-year National Program of Action for Children since 1997 that incorporates the 7 major global goals identified at the 1990 UN Summit for children.[542] The government is working with NGO's, community-based organizations, and the private sector on a National Orphan Programme tasked with policy development, capacity building, and coordinating inter-institutional activities, as well as developing a comprehensive National Orphan Policy based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[543] In September 2003, USDOL funded a USD 5 million regional project in Southern Africa, which includes Botswana, aimed at combating child labor.[544]

In 2000, the Government of Botswana signed a USD 4.5 million funding agreement with UNICEF to improve the situation of children in the country. The money is being used to serve children who are pregnant and children in remote areas by providing more learning facilities.[545] Additionally, UNICEF implements a girls' education program in Botswana aimed at improving the primary school curriculum, supporting the formulation of an early childhood care and education policy, developing pregnancy prevention policies and programs, and improving the environment at boarding schools where boys and girls enrollment is low.[546]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2001, the ILO estimated that 13.95 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Botswana were working.[547] In urban areas, increasing numbers of street children, many of them HIV/AIDS orphans, allegedly engage in begging and prostitution.[548] Child prostitution is also reported to occur on the border road between South Africa and Botswana and in tourist areas.[549] In remote areas, young children reportedly work as cattle tenders, domestic servants and babysitters.[550]

Primary education is free for seven years, but it is not compulsory.[551] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 108.3 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 84.3 percent. Total net and gross enrollment rates for girls and boys are relatively equal. In 1999, 86.8 percent of children enrolled in primary school reached grade 5.[552] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Botswana. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[553]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for basic employment for children is 14 years, and 18 years for hazardous work.[554] However, family members may employ children under the age of 14 in family businesses.[555] The law protects adopted children from being exploited as cheap labor or coerced into prostitution.[556] The government does not prohibit forced or compulsory labor of children, although there are no reports that such practices occur.[557] Child prostitution and pornography are criminal offenses and punishable by a 10-year minimum sentence for "defilement" of persons under 16.[558]

The Child Welfare and Juvenile Services Division at the Ministry of Local Government is the government agency that oversees the protection and welfare of children.[559] The Employment Act authorizes the Commissioner of Labor to investigate cases of child labor and to terminate unlawful employment of a child.[560] Child labor laws are enforced by the child welfare divisions of the district and municipal councils.[561] The highest penalty for unlawful child employment is imprisonment up to 12 months, a fine of 1500 Pula (USD 322), or a combination of both.[562]

The Government of Botswana ratified ILO Convention 138 on June 5, 1997, and ILO Convention 182 on January 3, 2000.[563]


[542] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Botswana, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8265.htm.

[543] UNICEF, Children Orphaned by AIDS: Front Line responses from eastern and southern Africa, New York, 1999, 8, 9; available from http://www.unaids.org/publications/documents/children/young/orphrepteng.pdf.

[544] ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, project document, Geneva, September, 2003.

[545] Panafrican News Agency, "UNICEF Signs Child Protection Agreement With Botswana", [online], November 3, 2000 [cited June 13, 2003]; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/200011030023.html [hard copy on file]. For currency conversion see FX Converter, Currency Converter, [online] [cited September 30, 2003]; available from http://www.oanda.com/classic.

[546] UNICEF, Girls' Education in Botswana, [online] [cited June 13, 2003]; available from http://216.239.37.104/search?q=cache:ap1N3NnpGfEJ:www.unicef.org/girlseducation/ Botswanafinal.PDF+Girls+education+in+Botswana&hl=en&ie=UTF-8.

[547] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[548] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Botswana, Section 5.

[549] ECPAT International, Botswana, [online] 2003 [cited June 12, 2003]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

[550] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Botswana, Section 6d.

[551] Ibid., Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy-Gaborone, unclassified telegram no. 3277, September 2001.

[552] In 1998, the net primary enrollment rate for boys was 82.5 percent and 86 percent for girls. The gross primary enrollment rate for boys was 108 percent for both boys and girls. World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003.

[553] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[554] U.S. Embassy-Gaborone, unclassified telegram no. 3277.

[555] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Botswana, Section 6d.

[556] Ibid.

[557] Ibid., Section 6c.

[558] Ibid., Section 5. See also Interpol, Legislation of Interpol member states on sexual offences against children: Botswana, [database online] 2003 [cited June 13, 2003]; available from http://www.interpol.com/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaBotswana.asp.

[559] Government of Botswana, Ministry of Local Government, [online] 2003 [cited June 12, 2003]; available from http://www.gov.bw/government/ministry_of_local_government.html.

[560] U.S. Embassy-Gaborone, unclassified telegram no. 3277.

[561] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Botswana, Section 6d.

[562] U.S. Embassy-Gaborone, unclassified telegram no. 3277. For currency conversion see FX Converter, Currency Converter.

[563] ILO, Ratifications by Country: Botswana, ILOLEX, [online] 2003 [cited June 13, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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