Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ghana

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ghana, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7489137.html [accessed 31 July 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 Ghana became a member of ILO-IPEC in 2000.1519 To oversee Ghana's participation in IPEC, the government created a National Steering Committee to address child labor in 2000.1520 The steering committee is comprised of members representing the government, the Trade Union's Congress, the Ghana Employer's Association, the media, NGOs, and international organizations.1521 The committee's work resulted in the publication of the "National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Child Labor in Ghana 2001-2002."1522 With technical assistance from ILO-IPEC's SIMPOC and funding from USDOL, the Ghana Statistical Service conducted a national child labor survey in 1999-2000.1523 Ghana also participates in a nine-country ILO-IPEC regional project in West and Central Africa, funded by the USDOL, to prevent trafficking in children and rehabilitate trafficking victims.1524 In October 2001, the Government of Ghana hosted a regional Economic Community of West African States conference on trafficking in persons, and established a national task force on trafficking in March 2002.1525

In 1997, the government initiated a program to improve basic education.1526 Between 2.5 and 3 percent of GNP is spent by the Government of Ghana on education, with roughly two-thirds of that amount put toward basic education.1527

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, the ILO estimated that 12 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Ghana were working.1528 In 2000, the Ghana Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare1529 estimated that 800,000 children worked nationwide, while 18,000 children were working in Accra, specifically.1530 Of the national estimate, 70 percent of working children had no formal education whatsoever, and 21 percent had only a primary-level education.1531 Rural-urban migration, caused by economic hardship, has led to significant increases in the school drop-out rate and the numbers of working children.1532

The majority of working children are unpaid workers on family farms and in family enterprises.1533 Street children in urban centers work as cleaners, waste disposal workers, vendors, beggars, and shoe shiners.1534 Children as young as 7 years old work as porters, domestic servants, street vendors, rock breakers, farmers, small-scale miners, and in the fishing industry.1535 Girl children migrate from rural areas to urban centers to serve as kayayoos, porters who trade goods carried on head loads.1536 The fishing industry in Lake Volta has a high number of child laborers who are engaged in potentially hazardous work.1537

Although the Government of Ghana has outlawed the practice of trokosi, reports indicate that there are more than 2,000 girls enslaved by the practice.1538 Trokosi has its origins in indigenous religion and involves the pledging of young girls to fetish priests by their families who fear retribution if they fail to make this sacrifice. Young girls often work for the priest for years without compensation and may be sexually abused.1539

Ghana is also a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children.1540 The most common forms of internal trafficking involve boys from rural areas who are taken to work in fishing communities in the Volta region or in small mines, and girls trafficked to Accra and Kumasi to work as domestics, porters and assistants to traders.1541 Children are also trafficked to neighboring countries to work as laborers, domestics or on farms.1542

Education is compulsory for children of primary and junior secondary age, which are the equivalent of grades one to nine.1543 Although schooling is compulsory, attendance is not enforced by the authorities, and parents rarely face penalties if their children do not attend school.1544 Education can also be expensive; families must pay school fees each term, as well as buy textbooks and uniforms.1545 The Government of Ghana is currently working to provide basic education to all children by the year 2005.1546 In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 75 percent.1547 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Ghana. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.1548

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Children's Act sets the minimum age for general employment at 15 years, and sets 13 years as the minimum age for light work.1549 The Children's Act prohibits children under 18 from engaging in hazardous labor, including work in mines, quarries, manufacturing, with machinery, at sea, in bars, or in any job that involves carrying heavy loads.1550 The legislation allows children aged 15 years and above to work in an apprenticeship if the employer provides a safe and healthy work environment, training, and tools.1551 Employers who operate in the formal sector must keep a register with the ages of their employees, and failing to keep this register can result in a fine of 10 million cedis (USD 1,235.27).1552

The Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment has more than 100 labor inspectors responsible for monitoring companies' labor practices, but the inspectors do not monitor the informal and agricultural sectors.1553 Law enforcement authorities, including judges, labor officers and police officers, lack adequate resources or training, but there have been some arrests of traffickers.1554 The Government of Ghana is developing a national action plan on trafficking.1555

The Government of Ghana has not ratified ILO Convention 138, but ratified ILO Convention 182 on June 13, 2000.1556


1519 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] August 13, 2001 [cited November 13, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

1520 U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657, October 2002.

1521 Ibid.

1522 Ibid.

1523 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Highlights 2000, Geneva, October 2000, 12 [cited September 27, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/imprep99/report2000/draft7.htm.

1524 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa (phase 1), project document, RAF/01/P53/USA, 5. See also ILO-IPEC, Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC), project document, 3.

1525 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Ghana, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2002, 53 [cited December 12, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2002/10679.htm. See also U.S. Embassy-Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1526 Association for the Development of Education in Africa, A Review of "Successful African Experiences: Country-Led Coordination of Aid in Ghana", (Newsletter), [online] March 14, 2001 [cited August 26, 2002], Vol. 9, No. 3; available from http://www.adeanet.org/newsletter/Vol9No3/ghana-eng.html.

1527 U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices- 2001: Ghana, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 321-27, Section 5 [cited August 26, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8379.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1528 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

1529 The ministry's name has changed since the publication of these estimates. The Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare is now called The Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment. For reference to this change, see U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1530 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6d.

1531 Ibid.

1532 Ibid.

1533 Sudharshan Canagarajah and Harold Coulombe, Child Labor and Schooling in Ghana, background paper for World Bank Economic and Sector Work, Washington, D.C., 1997, 10.

1534 ILO, Child Labour Surveys: Results of Methodological Experiments in Four Countries, 1992-93, Geneva, 1996, 16 [cited August 26, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/stats/child/surveys.pdf.

1535 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6d.

1536 Seema Agarwal et al., Bearing the Weight, Centre for Social Policy Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, May 1997, 1-3. UNICEF operates Operation End Kayaye in Ghana. The goal of the project is to remove 2000 kayayei girls from cities and return them to their villages, where they will participate in skills training. See ILO-IPEC, National Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour in Ghana, technical report No. 7, GHA/9/05/060, Geneva, March 2002, 5.

1537 U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1538 Reports on the number of women and girls in the shrines vary. According to other international observers, there are no more than 100 girls serving in the Trokosi shrines in the Volta region. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports 2001: Ghana, 321-27, Section 5.

1539 Ibid. See also Obenewa Amponsah, The Trokosi: Religious Slavery in Ghana, [online] [cited August 26, 2002]; available from http://www.anti-slavery.org/global/ghana/. See also Rachel Levine, Free the Trokosi!, Fresh Angles, [online] [cited August 26, 2002]; available from http://www.freshangles.com/realtime/international/articles/20.html. See also Nirit Ben-Ari, Liberating girls from Trokosi, United Nations, Africa Recovery Online, [online] December 2001 [cited August 26, 2002]; available from http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/.

1540 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6f. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Ghana, 53.

1541 U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1542 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6f.

1543 Ibid., 321-27, Section 5.

1544 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1545 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 321-27, Section 5.

1546 Ibid.

1547 Net primary enrollment rates are unavailable for Ghana. World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002.

1548 For a more detailed description on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

1549 Light work is defined as work that is not harmful to the health or development of a child and that does not affect the child's attendance at school. See Government of Ghana, The Children's Act, Act 560, 1998, Part V, Employment of Children, Sub-Part I, Child labour.

1550 Ibid., Part V, Employment of Children, Sub-Part I, Section 91, Child Labour.

1551 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6d.

1552 U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657. For currency conversion, see FX Converter, [online] [cited November 14, 2002]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

1553 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ghana, 327-32, Section 6d.

1554 U.S. Embassy – Accra, unclassified telegram no. 2657.

1555 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Ghana, 53.

1556 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 27, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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