Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guyana

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 - Guyana, 29 April 2004, available at: [accessed 27 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.

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

In 1998 and 1999, officials of the Government of Guyana attended training workshops aimed at building the capacity of the national statistics agency and the Ministry of Labor to collect and disseminate data on child labor.[2016] In 1999, the government established a drop-in center for street children, and is also building a home for street children.[2017]

In 2002, the government implemented a five-year Basic Education Access and Management Systems Project to address teacher training, education management, and educational development.[2018] As part of the plan, the government received a loan from the IDB to modernize and strengthen the country's basic education system.[2019] In November 2002, the Government of Guyana became eligible to receive funding from the World Bank and other donors under the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, which aims to provide all children with a primary school education by the year 2015.[2020] Countries are eligible to receive this financing if they are willing to prioritize primary education and enact policies that improve their primary education systems.[2021] In 2000, a draft National Education Plan was prepared with basic education, efficient and optimal use of resources, and increased accountability at all levels identified as key priorities.[2022] In January 1998, the government began the Escuela Nueva project, which aims to improve learning and the quality of education in schools with limited resources.[2023] During the 1990s, the Government of Guyana implemented a Primary Education Improvement Project that enhanced teacher training, produced new primary school textbooks, and constructed 35 new schools, rehabilitating 64 more.[2024]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 27.0 percent of children ages 5 to 14 in Guyana were working.[2025] UNICEF reports that child labor is a problem in the informal sector, and it is common to see children engaged in street trading.[2026] There are reports that children are involved in prostitution in ports, gold mining areas, and the capital city of Georgetown.[2027] In the Hinterland areas, girls are recruited to work as domestic servants and waitresses in restaurants.[2028] The Guyana Human Rights Association reported that there were cases where female adolescents, aged 14 to 16 years, traveled from the capital city of Georgetown to the Suriname border for the purpose of prostitution.[2029]

Primary education in Guyana is free and compulsory for children ages 5 years and 9 months to 12 years.[2030] In 1999, the gross primary enrollment rate was 119.7 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 97.9 percent.[2031] In 2000, 87.3 percent of children of primary school age were attending primary school.[2032] In 2002, 97.0 percent of children enrolled in primary school reached grade 5.[2033]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Factories Act and Employment of Young Persons and Children Act of 1999 sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years,[2034] but children under that age may be employed in enterprises in which members of their family are employed.[2035] Forced labor is prohibited by the Constitution.[2036] Prostitution of a child under 13 years is illegal according to the Criminal Law Offenses Act, but it is a defense for the accused to claim that he/she believed the child to be at least 13 years.[2037] Sections 83-86 of the Act prohibit the abduction of unmarried girls, and although there is no particular offense of child pornography in Guyana, Section 350 of the Act regulates selling, publishing, or exhibiting an obscene matter.[2038] The Ministry of Labor lacks sufficient inspectors to enforce child labor laws effectively.[2039]

The Government of Guyana ratified ILO Convention 138 on April 15, 1998 and ILO Convention 182 on January 15, 2001.[2040]

[2016] ILO-IPEC, SIMPOC: Major Activities and Achievements in 1998-1999, [online] October 31, 2000 [cited June 5, 2003]; available from

[2017] UNICEF and Government of Guyana, Progress Report Towards Attaining the Goals of the World Summit for Children, October 2000, 31; available from

[2018] Safraz Ishmael, Guyana News and Information: Guyana Monthly Update, Embassy of Guyana, [online] June 4 [cited June 5, 2003], April 2003 edition; available from

[2019] Inter-American Development Bank, IDB Approves $30 Million to Modernize Basic Education in Guyana, [online] June 19, 2002 [cited June 6, 2003]; available from

[2020] World Bank, World Bank Announces First Group Of Countries For 'Education For All' Fast Track, press release, Washington, D.C., June 12, 2002; available from,, contentMDK:20049839~menuPK:34463~pagePK:34370~ piPK:34424,00.html.

[2021] World Bank, Education for All the World's Children: Donors Agree to Finance First Group of Countries on Education Fast-Track, [online] November 27, 2002 [cited June 6, 2003]; available from

[2022] UNICEF and Guyana, Progress Report Towards Attaining the Goals of the World Summit, 29.

[2023] UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Guyana, prepared by Ms. Evelyn Hamilton Ministry of Education, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84; available from

[2024] Ibid.

[2025] Government of Guyana, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2000 – Guyana, UNICEF, December 18, 2002, 53; available from

[2026] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Guyana, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6d; available from

[2027] ECPAT International, Guyana, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited May 21, 2003]; available from See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Guyana, Section 6f.

[2028] UNICEF, Girls' Education in Guyana, [online] [cited May 22, 2003]; available from

[2029] ECPAT International, Guyana. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Guyana.

[2030] Primary education has been compulsory in Guyana for over a century. See UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Guyana. Other sources suggest that education is compulsory until age 11. See also National Development Strategy Secretariat, National Development Strategy, Vol. 3: The Social Sectors, Ch. 20: Education Policy, Ministry of Finance, [online] [cited June 6, 2003]; available from See also UNESCO, Guyana – Education System, [online] [cited May 22, 2003]; available from

[2031] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[2032] Government of Guyana, MICS 2000 – Guyana, 17. For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[2033] Ibid., 16.

[2034] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Guyana, Section 6d. See also Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01) [consolidated up to 1973], No. 14 of 1933; available from

[2035] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Guyana, Section 6d.

[2036] Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Article 140; available from

[2037] Interpol, Legislation on Sexual Offences Against Children, [database online] [cited June 9, 2003]; available from

[2038] Ibid.

[2039] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Guyana, Section 6d.

[2040] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited June 9, 2003]; available from

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