Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - São Tomé and Principe

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - São Tomé and Principe, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 29 November 2015]
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

São Tomé and Principe's current educational development program was developed from the structural adjustment program implemented by the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While the IMF has placed sharp spending constraints on the government, it has urged the São Tomé and Principe Government to increase the share of total spending allocated to education from 14 percent in 1998 to 21 percent by 2002. Emphasizing the need to improve access to education and training, especially for the poor and women, the plan calls on the government to: adopt an overall education development plan; improve its educational planning capacity; provide school supplies for the 4,000 poorest students; and, increase the share of elementary school spending in the overall education budget from 22 percent in 1998 to 30 percent in 2002.[2242] School enrollment may have been affected by the suspension of a school meals program operated by the WFP in 1995-96.[2243] The program, which is scheduled to provide a mid-day meal to over 31,000 children in primary schools and kindergartens over a period of 180 days per year, was resumed in May 2000.[2244]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in São Tomé and Principe are unavailable, and there is limited information on the incidence of child labor. Children, sometimes at early ages, reportedly work in subsistence agriculture, on commercial farms, and in informal commerce.[2245]

Education is compulsory for four years.[2246] Primary school enrollment and attendance rates are unavailable for São Tomé and Principe. The educational system has a shortage of classrooms, insufficiently trained and underpaid teachers, inadequate textbooks and materials, high rates of repetition, poor educational planning and management, and a lack of community involvement in school management.[2247] Domestic financing of the school system is lacking, leaving the system highly dependent on foreign financing.[2248]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is 18 years and is generally respected by employers.[2249] The Ministry of Justice and Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws.[2250] Forced and bonded labor, including by children, is prohibited and not known to exist.[2251] São Tomé and Principe has not ratified either ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.[2252]

[2242] Specific targets for the period 2000-2002 are to build or rehabilitate 60 primary school classrooms annually, hire and train 90 new primary school teachers annually, train and retrain 300 primary school teachers, extend the school day from four to seven hours, narrow disparities between rural and urban areas, increase the gross enrollment ratio from 70 to 90 percent, and lower the primary school dropout rate from 31 to 15 percent. See "São Tomé and Principe: Matrix of Policy Actions and Measures: 2000-2002," in International Monetary Fund, São Tomé and Principe, Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper [hereinafter "Matrix of Policy Actions and Measures"], at on 11/30/01.

[2243] UN House in São Tomé and Principe, Education, at on 11/30/01.

[2244] "Projected 2002 Needs for WFP Projects and Operations," São Tomé and Príncipe, in World Food Program, Country Brief, São Tomé and Príncipe, at on 11/30/01.

[2245] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – São Tomé and Principe(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 6d, at

[2246] Plans to extend primary school education from 4 to 6 years have yet to be implemented. See Preliminary Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Ms. Katarina Tomaševski, UN Document E/CN.4/1999/4913 (Geneva: UN Commission on Human Rights, January 1999). See also Common Country Assessment, prepared by the UN agencies in São Tomé and Principe, UN House in São Tomé and Principe [hereinafter Common Country Assessment], at on 11/30/01.

[2247] Common Country Assessment.

[2248] Ibid.

[2249] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[2250] Ibid.

[2251] Ibid.

[2252] ILO, ILOLEX database on International Labour Standards, São Tomé and Principe, at on 11/27/01.

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