Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 09:14 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Swaziland

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Swaziland, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7490d1a.html [accessed 23 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     10/23/2002
Ratified Convention 182     10/23/2002
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 9.6 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were counted as working in Swaziland in 2000. In this age group, the percentage of all boys working was approximately the same compared to girls.4459 Children work in agriculture (particularly in the eastern region), and as domestic workers and herders.4460 Children are also found working on the streets as traders, hawkers, bus and taxi conductors, load bearers, and car washers.4461 There are reports that girls from Swaziland and Mozambique are increasingly found working in child prostitution in Swaziland.4462

Education is not free, universal, or compulsory in Swaziland. In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 98 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 75 percent.4463 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2002, 74.3 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school.4464 As of 2002, 77 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade five.4465 The government pays teacher salaries, while students are required to pay fees for books, transportation, uniforms, boarding, and building upkeep.4466 School fees can range from USD 40 to USD 160 per year per pupil. These fees make it difficult for poor children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS, to attend school.4467

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age of employment is set at 15 years for industrial work, although children may work in the commercial sector beginning at age 13. The minimum age for light work varies between 13 and 15 years of age depending on the sector.4468 Children under 15 are also allowed to work in family industrial firms or in technical schools under supervision of a teacher or other authorized person.4469 The Employment Act prohibits children and young persons under 18 years from working in mines, quarries or underground, in premises that sell alcohol for consumption on site, or in any sector that is dangerous to their safety, health or moral development.4470 The Employment Act also prohibits children from working during school hours, between the hours of 6 pm and 7 am, and for more than 4 hours continuously.4471 Children are limited to 6 hours of work per day and 33 hours per week.4472 Since 1999, the Government of Swaziland has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.4473 The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but its effectiveness is limited by shortages of personnel, according to the U.S. Department of State.4474

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Swaziland. The Penal Code prohibits the procurement of a girl unless she is a "common prostitute" or "of known immoral character" for purposes of prostitution.4475 Forced and bonded labor, including by children, is also prohibited. Children are protected by law against child pornography and sexual exploitation.4476 There is no law prohibiting trafficking in persons.4477

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

The Government of Swaziland's Children's Unit collaborates with law enforcement on child protection issues, has developed guidelines for management of child abuse cases, and has established professional networks through cooperation with the government's legal branch and NGOs.4478 The government is participating in two USDOL-supported regional child labor projects in Southern Africa that include Swaziland. ILO-IPEC is implementing a USD 5 million project, which is focused on piloting small action programs aimed at children who are working or at risk of working in exploitative labor; conducting research on the nature and incidence of child labor; and building the capacity of governments in the region to address child labor issues.4479 American Institutes for Research is implementing a USD 9 million Child Labor Education Initiative project that aims to combat exploitative child labor through education.4480

The government continues to fund a program to keep children already attending school in class when they become at risk of dropping out for financial reasons. In 2004, an additional USD 3 million was allotted to the program to allow children who dropped out of school due to AIDS in the family to re-enroll.4481 The government allocated USD 7.6 million to the education of orphans and vulnerable children for 2004, the most recent time period for which such information is available, while UN agencies are providing additional assistance through targeted programs.4482 It is reported that 70,000 children under the age of 15 have lost parents to HIV/AIDS.4483 UNICEF estimates that the number of AIDS orphans in Swaziland is projected to rise to around 150,000 by 2010.4484 At least 44 new community schools and 198 Neighborhood Care Points that provide nutritional, medical, and counseling needs for orphans and vulnerable populations opened in 2004.4485 In 2004, the Swaziland Schools Head-teachers Association changed its policy to guarantee that girls who become pregnant will no longer be expelled from school.4486

The government collaborates with UNICEF on the "Shoulder to Cry On" volunteer program. The program receives financial and technical assistance from UNICEF. The Deputy Prime Minister's office trains community volunteers through the Women's Resource Center. The volunteers assist orphans and vulnerable children with their nutritional, medical, educational, and psychological needs.4487 The government also receives assistance from UNICEF on a pilot program aimed at collecting data on orphans and vulnerable children. Information from the data collection will be used to identify which children will receive government assistance for school expenses.4488 UNICEF is also implementing the "Education for All Community Grants" initiative, which assists the most vulnerable children in reenrolling in school.4489

Save the Children Swaziland implements a program to promote inclusive education for disabled children, provides technical advice on school feeding programs, and carries out awareness-raising sessions on HIV/AIDS for children.4490 The UN-supported local branch of the Global Campaign for Education was established in Swaziland in 2004. The goal of the group is to ensure that Swazi children are provided with free and quality education.4491


4459 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4460 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Swaziland, Section 6d, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2005, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41629.htm.

4461 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, project document, Geneva, September 30, 2003, Annex 2, 22-23.

4462 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Swaziland, Section 5. ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, Annex 2, 22-23.

4463 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed October 2005).

4464 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

4465 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

4466 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Swaziland, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27754.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: AIDS and economic decline hamper school enrolments", January 12, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=38872&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4467 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Tempers Flare as Government Pays Ophans' School Fees", January 12, 2005; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=45268&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4468 See ILO-IPEC, Report VI (1) Child Labour: Targeting the Intolerable, Geneva, 1998, 77; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/comp/child/publ/target/target.pdf.

4469 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Swaziland, Section 6d.

4470 ILO-IPEC, Child Labour: Targeting the Intolerable, 74, 77. See also ILO-IPEC., Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, Annex II, 21.

4471 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, Annex II, 21.

4472 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Swaziland, Section 6d.

4473 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

4474 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Swaziland, Section 6d.

4475 The Protection Project, "Swaziland," in Human Rights Report on the Trafficking of Persons, Especially Women and Children: A Country-by-Country Report on a Contemporary Form of Slavery, March 2002; available from http://209.190.246.239/ver2/cr/Swaziland.pdf. See also The Crimes Act, 6/1889, Section V, Article 42, n.d. 15.

4476 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Swaziland, Section 6c.

4477 Ibid., Section 6f.

4478 The Honorable Dr. Phetsile Dlamini, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children, May 10, 2002; available from http://www.un.org/ga/children/swazilandE.htm.

4479 ILO-IPEC., Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, Annex 2, 38-39.

4480 The AIR project aims to improve quality and access to basic and vocational education for children who are working or at-risk of working in the worst forms of child labor. See Government of the Central African Republic, Decision No. 190, Ministry of Education, Bangui, September 4, 2004, 1,2.

4481 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Campaign to Help Aids-Hit Education System", March 31, 2004; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/200403310055.html.

4482 Integrated Regional Information Network, Child Rights Advocates Highlight Plight of Under-Fives, November 10, 2005 2005; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=46731&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4483 Ibid.

4484 Integrated Regional Information Network, Swaziland: NGO's UNICEF call for Implementation of National Children's Policy, November 10, 2005 2005; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=47701&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4485 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Plight of orphans and vulnerable children highlighted", 2003. See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Innovative project cares for AIDS orphans", May 25, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=41260&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4486 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Pregnant school girls no longer face expulsion", June 21, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=41797&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4487 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Community provides "shoulders to cry on"", December 11, 2003; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=38365&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4488 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Project aims to identify vulnerable children", May 27, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=41302&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=SWAZILAND.

4489 Integrated Regional Information Network, Southern Africa: UNICEF appeals for assistance for region's children, December 2, 2003 [cited February 5, 2004]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=38196&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&SelectCountry=southern%20africa.

4490 Save The Children, Swaziland: What we do, [website] November 18, 2003 [cited March 26, 2004]; available from http://www.savethechildren.net/swaziland/.

4491 Integrated Regional Information Network, "Swaziland: Campaign to Help Aids-Hit Education System."

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