Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2004 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 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - São Tomé and Principe, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca7132.html [accessed 22 September 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.

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

UNICEF estimated that 19.8 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years in São Tomé and Principe were working in 2000.[3527] Almost 5 percent of the working children within this age group perform domestic work for 4 or more hours per day,[3528] which may include such tasks as cooking, collecting water, and watching younger siblings.[3529] About 10 percent of children ages 5 to 14 work for their families in the streets, on commercial farms, or in other activities in the informal sector.[3530] From an early age, children reportedly work in subsistence agriculture, on plantations, and in informal commerce.[3531] Children also work in auto mechanic shops, cabinetry, and tailoring.[3532] There is little information about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the country, but the government anticipates that, with the increase in tourism, the establishment of tax-free zones, oil exploration, and increased migration to São Tomé, children are at risk of such exploitation.[3533]

Education is free, universal, and compulsory through the sixth grade.[3534] Although education is compulsory through the sixth grade, many children work in the absence of educational opportunities beyond the fourth grade.[3535] Buying books and uniforms is the responsibility of the family, but the government provides assistance to those who cannot afford them.[3536] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 126.5 percent.[3537] Gross 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 statistics are not available for São Tomé and Principe.

Class time is insufficient because of a triple-shift system, which designates shifts of 4 hours. In reality, students attend between 2 and 3 hours of class time per day.[3538] The educational system suffers from poorly-trained and underpaid teachers, a shortage of classrooms, inadequate textbooks and materials, high rates of repetition, poor educational planning and management, and a lack of community involvement in school management.[3539] Only about 78 percent of children who enter first grade reach fourth grade and 52 percent reach eighth grade.[3540] Coordination among government ministries on education issues is poor,[3541] and a lack of domestic funding for the school system leaves the system highly dependent on foreign assistance.[3542]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment of a child is 16 years as established by national legislation.[3543] The law applies to commercial agriculture and export processing zones but not to family-owned or -operated farms and enterprises, domestic services, or light work.[3544] It is illegal for children under 18 years to work at night, more than 7 hours per day, or more than 35 hours per week.[3545] The Penal Code prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children. There have been few prosecutions.[3546] Forced and bonded labor, including by children, is prohibited and not known to exist.[3547]

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

The Government of São Tomé supports a number of non-formal education initiatives through various ministries.[3548] WFP assists the government by supplying meals to primary school students.[3549] UNICEF's school garden program provides an alternative learning environment for the students, as well as vegetables to supplement the food supplied by the WFP.[3550]


[3527] Children who are working in some capacity include children who have performed any paid or unpaid work for someone who is not a member of the household, who have performed more than four hours of housekeeping chores in the household, or who have performed other family work. See Government of São Tomé and Príncipe, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2000 – São Tomé and Príncipe, UNICEF, 2000, 64; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/saotome/STPtables.pdf.

[3528] Ibid.

[3529] Government of São Tomé and Príncipe, Enquête de grappes à indicateurs multiples MICS: Rapport d'analyse, UNICEF, July 14, 2000, 9; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/saotome/SaoTome&Principe.PDF.

[3530] Ibid. The largest percentage of child workers from this group is found in Principe (18 percent) and in the north (15 percent).

[3531] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: São Tomé and Príncipe, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27746.htm. Child labor is seen to be increasing particularly in the urban centers. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1993, CRC/C/8/Add.49, prepared by Government of São Tomé and Príncipe, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, March 4, 2003, para. 430.

[3532] Ambrósio Quaresma, Unicef quer conhecer a realidade de mão de obra infantil em S. Tomé e Príncipe, UNICEF, [online] [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/saotome/trabalho.htm.

[3533] ECPAT International, São Tomé and Principe, in ECPAT International, [database online] 2002 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

[3534] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: São Tomé and Príncipe, Section 5.

[3535] UNICEF, Education Programme, [online] 2000 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/saotome/educatio.htm.

[3536] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: São Tomé and Príncipe.

[3537] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004. For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[3538] World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Grant in the Amount of SDR 1.1 Million (US$ 1.5 Million Equivalent) to the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe for a Social Sector Support Project, no. 28319-STP, Washington, D.C., April 22, 2004 2004, 2; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/04/29/000160016_20040429122636/Rendered/INDEX/28319.txt. Only about 35 percent of primary school teachers are trained educators.

[3539] United Nations House, São Tomé and Principe: Common Country Assessment, [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.uns.st/uns/Summary.html.

[3540] World Bank, São Tomé and Principe – Social Sector Support.

[3541] UNESCO, L'evaluation de l'education pour tous a l'an 2000: Rapport de pays: São Tomé and Principe, prepared by Ministry of Education and Culture, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/saotome_principe/contents.html.

[3542] United Nations House, São Tomé e Principe: Common Country Assessment.

[3543] ILO, Review of Annual Reports under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Geneva, March 2002, Part II. The U.S. Department of State reports that the minimum age for employment was 18 in the formal sector. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: São Tomé and Príncipe, Section 6d. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the legal age of employment of children is 14. See Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et de la Coopération, Rapport Initial sur l'Application de la Convention sur les Droits de l'Enfant, July, 2001, 16.

[3544] ILO, Review of Annual Reports, Part II.

[3545] Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et de la Coopération, Rapport Initial sur l'Application de la Convention sur les Droits de l'Enfant, 16, 48.

[3546] ECPAT International, São Tomé and Principe. While there have been few cases involving child exploitation, it has been noted that the exploitation of children for financial gain is believed to be on the rise. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of State Parties: Sao Tome and Principe, para. 405.

[3547] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: São Tomé and Príncipe, Section 6c.

[3548] The Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fishing and Rural Development, Ministry of Labor and Solidarity, and Ministry of Youth and Sports all support non-formal education programs. UNESCO, Education Pour Tous-EPT: Plan Nacional d'Action 2002-2015, November 18, 2002, 15; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/file_download.php/7e1173d3d3e6b9fdc9ce582c6fa1e723PNA_EPT_SaoTomeetPrincipe.doc.

[3549] WFP, World Hunger – Sao Tome and Principe, 2004 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=678.

[3550] UNICEF, At a glance: Sao Tome and Principe, [online] 2004 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/stp.html.

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