Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kazakhstan

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 - Kazakhstan, 18 April 2003, available at: [accessed 26 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

The Government of Kazakhstan is an associated country of ILO-IPEC.1929 The National Commission for Women's and Family Issues is leading efforts to combat trafficking of women and girls in Kazakhstan.1930 With funding from USAID, IOM is implementing an anti-trafficking program in cooperation with government ministries that aims to raise awareness and develop a preventative action plan for the country.1931

It is mandated that Universal Compulsory Secondary Education Funds be established at schools in Kazakhstan in order to pay for education expenses, including clothes, shoes, textbooks, training aids, and school meals. The funds are provided by local governments and private sources (such as sponsorships) and total no less than 1 percent of the schools' current operational budgets, and are used to support needy and secondary school students.1932 Local education bodies also provide regular reports on the progress toward the goal of universal education.1933 International organizations, such as UNICEF and UNESCO, also have implemented programs aimed at improving the country's education system.1934

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The 1999 ILO Yearbook of Labor Statistics reported that 0.1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Kazakhstan were working.1935 However, in 1996, a national household survey on living standards found that 31.1 percent of children ages 7 to 14 were working or working and studying.

The survey also found that a higher percentage of children in Central Kazakhstan work without attending school than in other regions of the country.1936 Educators interviewed for the ILO-IPEC Child Labor Survey in Kazakhstan estimate that over one-half of all children participate in labor activities at some time during their childhood.1937

Children in rural areas work in agriculture, generally on family farms.1938 Children in urban areas, including many homeless and abandoned children, can be found working at gas stations selling newspapers, magazines and other goods, wiping windshields and cleaning cars, conducting buses, loading and unloading goods, and begging and working in bazaars and small businesses, often alongside their parents.1939 Although the scope of the problem is unknown, local media reports indicate that child prostitution is a problem in Kazakhstan.1940 There are also reports that children are sold or pawned by parents or guardians.1941 Kazakhstan is reported to be a source country for trafficking in children to the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Turkey, Israel, and South Korea.1942 There are some reports that Kazakhstan is a destination country for trafficking in children.1943

Under the Education Law, school is free and compulsory through grade nine or up to the age of 16 years.1944 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 97 percent.1945 In 1995, the gross and net primary attendance rates were 116.9 and 90.1 percent, respectively.1946 However, since 1991, government resources for education have declined by over 50 percent.1947 In 1994-1995, a lack of funds, mainly for transportation and heat, led to the closure of numerous primary schools and preschools.1948

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years with parental consent and providing that the work does not interfere with school attendance or pose a health threat.1949 Children 16 years and older may independently sign work contracts.1950 Children under 18 years are prohibited from working in dangerous conditions, overtime or at night.1951

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.1952 State labor inspectors are responsible for following up on labor-related complaints, conducting random inspections and levying steep fines for labor law violations.1953 However, reports indicate that regulations are inadequately enforced.1954 The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except under a court mandate or in a state of emergency.1955 Involving a minor in prostitution, begging or gambling is illegal under the Criminal Code and punishable by up to three years imprisonment.1956 Trafficking of children is prohibited.1957

The Government of Kazakhstan ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 18, 2001 and ratified ILO Convention 182 on February 26, 2003.1958

1929 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2002 (Geneva: ILO, 2002), 16.

1930 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Kazakhstan, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, Section 6f; available from

1931 Other participating organizations include businesses and NGOs. See USAID, Selected USAID Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union, (USAID's Women in Development Publications), September 2001 [cited November 15, 2002]; available from

1932 Resolution #812 on Measures to Promote Further Reforms of Secondary Education System of the Republic of Kazakhstan, August 28, 1998 as cited in UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Report – Kazakhstan, prepared by Ministry of Health, Education, and Sports, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000; available from

1933 Ibid.

1934 Dr. Serikzhan H. Bereshev and James G. Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan, A report prepared for ILO-IPEC, ILO, Geneva, September 1997., 19. See also USAID, Kazakhstan, [online] 2002 [cited November 16, 2002]; available from UNICEF is implementing a public awareness campaign on the rights of the child, in addition to running a major health and education program in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. See A. Bauer, N. Boschmann, D. Jay Green, and K. Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, Children in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (Asian Development Bank, 1998), 128.

1935 ILO, Yearbook of Labor Statistics: Kazakhstan, Geneva, 1999.

1936 Understanding Children's Work: An Inter-Agency Research Cooperation Project at Innocenti Research Center, Kazakhstan Living Standards Survey, [online] [cited September 18, 2002]; available from cgi-bin/ucw/Survey/Main.sql?come=Tab_Country_Res.sql&ID_SURVEY=1095.

1937 Bereshev and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan, 3.

1938 Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, 39. See also U.S. Embassy – Almaty, unclassified telegram, no. 6573, October 2001.

1939 Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk., 39, 108. See also Bereshev and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 3.

1940 A survey of school-age girls in Almaty suggests that prostitution is regarded as an acceptable profession given serious family economic problems. See Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk., 114-115.

1941 Ibid., 108.

1942 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Kazakhstan., Section 6f .

1943 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 2003.

1944 Students may begin technical training at grade 9. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Kazakhstan. at Section 5.

1945 World Development Indicators 2002 [CD ROM], Washington DC, 2002.

1946 USAID, Demographic Health Survey 2002.

1947 Bereshev and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 18. In 1990, 24.5 percent of the budget expenditures and 5.7 percent of GDP were spent on education. In 1998, percentages for budget expenditures and GDP were 11.2 and 3.0 respectively. See UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment.

1948 Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk., 46, 48. See also Bereshev and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 19.

1949 The Government of Kazakhstan, Labour Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 1999; available from, Section 11, no. 3.

1950 Ibid., Section 11, no. 1.

1951 Children between ages 16 and 18 may not work more than 36 hours per week. Children between ages 15 and 16 (or 14 and 16 years during non-school periods) may not work over 24 hours per week. Ibid., Section 46-49.

1952 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Kazakhstan., Section 6d.

1953 The Administrative Code gives inspectors the authority to fine individuals guilty of violating labor legislation. However, the Criminal Code give the Prosecutors Office responsibility for prosecuting cases in which child labor is used illegally. The Criminal Code imposes fines of up to USD 25,000 (3,675,000 tenge) and two years imprisonment for employing a child under unhealthy or injurious conditions. See U.S. Embassy – Almaty, unclassified telegram no. 6573. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Kazakhstan., Section 6d.

1954 Bereshev and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 18.

1955 Government of Kazakhstan, The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan; available from, Article 24. See also The Government of Kazakhstan, Labour Law., Section 6.

1956 Article 201 in the Criminal Code cited in The Protection Project, Human Rights Report on Trafficking of Women and Children: Kazakhstan, [online] [cited September 18, 2002]; available from

1957 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Kazakhstan, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2002; available from

1958 ILOLEX, Database on International Labour Standards: Kazakhstan – Ratifications, [online] 2002 [cited September 20, 2002]; available from

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