Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Zambia

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 - Zambia, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748cdc.html [accessed 20 December 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 Zambia has been a member of ILO-IPEC since 2000.3867 With funding from USDOL, a number of ILO-IPEC activities have been launched in Zambia, including a country program aimed at building national capacity to address child labor and targeting an initial group of children for removal and prevention from exploitative child labor.3868 As part of this program, a National Plan of Action on the Elimination of Child Labor was adopted in March 2001 by the National Steering Committee (NSC).3869 With technical assistance from ILO-IPEC's SIMPOC, Zambia's Central Statistical Office (CSO) conducted a national child labor survey in 1999.3870 Zambia is one of five countries participating in a USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC regional program to combat child labor in the commercial agricultural sector.3871 In 2002, USDOL funded an education project targeting child laborers and children at risk of entering work.3872 The Government of Zambia receives policy and program guidance on child labor issues through an Inter-Ministerial Committee, established in May 2000 and comprised of key ministries.3873

Zambia's national policy on education, "Educating Our Future," was published in 1996 and focuses primarily on making curricula for basic education more relevant, promoting partnerships and cost sharing, and improving school management.3874 With support from various donor groups, the government began implementing a national plan of reform through the Basic Education Sub-Sector Investment Program (BESSIP). Through BESSIP, the government aims to achieve universal primary education enrollment by the year 2005.3875 To increase school access, the government waived compulsory uniforms in rural areas and in 2002 issued a proclamation abolishing school fees for grades 1 to 7.3876

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, the Zambian CSO estimated that 11.5 percent (347,357) of children ages 5 to 14 years in Zambia were working.3877 Over 90 percent of these children in the same age group were engaged in agricultural activities.3878 Approximately 24 percent of working children combined work with school.3879 Children are found working in a variety of industries and occupations, including fisheries, manufacturing, construction, trading, business services and personal services, domestic service, carpentry, food production and vending.3880 An increasing number of younger children are forced into prostitution.3881 In addition, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the growing number of orphans has contributed to an increase in the number of street children, many of who engage in various forms of work, such as carrying parcels or guarding cars.3882

Education is neither free nor compulsory in Zambia.3883 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 86.4 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 72.9 percent.3884 In 1996, the gross primary school attendance was 91.7 percent, and the net attendance was 67.4 percent.3885

According to USAID, there are 560,000 children not attending school in Zambia, and of those children who enter grade one, one-third fail to complete their education through grade seven.3886 Girls' attendance tends to be lower than that of boys, especially in rural areas.3887

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Constitution of 1991 prohibits forced labor and establishes legal protection from exploitative work for young persons, defined as under the age of 15.3888 The Employment of Young Persons and Children Act of 1933, establishes 15 as the minimum age for employment, and prohibits children up to the age of 18 from engaging in work that is hazardous; however the law does not apply to commercial farms.3889 The Constitution prohibits trafficking of children under 15 years old.3890 The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS), which is responsible for enforcing labor laws, established a Child Labor Unit to specifically address issues relating to child labor.3891 MLSS conducts monthly inspections to workplaces, however the Ministry has noted that its staff is not properly trained to effectively address child labor issues. No fines or penalties have been issued for child labor violations, but MLSS has placed an emphasis on sensitizing and educating the public on the worst forms of child labor.3892

The Government of Zambia ratified ILO Convention 138 on February 9, 1976, and ratified ILO Convention 182 on December 10, 2001.3893


3867 ILO-IPEC, National Program on the Elimination of Child Labour in Zambia: Progress Report, June 2000.

3868 ILO-IPEC, National Program on the Elimination of Child Labour in Zambia: project document, ZAM/99/05/060, Geneva, 1999.

3869 ILO-IPEC, National Program on the Elimination of Child Labour in Zambia: Progress Report, 2001.

3870 ILO-IPEC, Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC) in Zambia: project document, ZAM/99/05/050, Geneva, 1999.

3871 ILO-IPEC, Prevention, Withdrawal and Rehabilitation of Children in Hazardous Work in the Commercial Agricultural Sector in Africa: project document – Country Annex for Zambia, RAF/00/P51/USA, Geneva, 2000, 64.

3872 USDOL, Child Labor Education Initiative Cooperative Agreement for Zambia project, 2002.

3873 The ministries on the committee include: Labor; Sport, Youth and Child Development; Information and Broadcasting; and Legal Affairs. See U.S. Embassy – Lusaka, unclassified telegram no. 1761, October 2002. See also U.S. Embassy – Lusaka, unclassified telegram no. 3288, September 2001.

3874 The 1996 "Educating Our Future" policy calls for, among other educational system improvements, increasing the provision of basic schooling from 7 to 9 years for all children. See Republic of Zambia Central Statistics Office, Zambia 1999 Child Labor Survey: Country Report, ILO-IPEC, Lusaka, 2001, 3. See also United Nations, Common Country Assessment – Zambia 2000, 49.

3875 BESSIP began in 1999 and will continue through 2005 with a total of USD 340 million in funding (USD 167 million coming from the government of Zambia). Government of the Republic of Zambia Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, Lusaka, July 7, 2000, Section 24. See also World Bank, Zambia Improves Basic Education: World Bank supports efforts with US$40 million credit, press release, News Release No. 99/2140/AFR, Washington, DC, April 8, 1999; available from http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/ extme/2140.htm. See also United Nations, Common Country Assessment – Zambia 2000, 24.

3876 U.S. Embassy – Lusaka, unclassified telegram no. 1761.

3877 This survey was carried out with technical support from the ILO/IPEC's SIMPOC. See Republic of Zambia Central Statistics Office, Zambia 1999 Child Labor Survey, xvi.

3878 Ibid., Table 4.7, 27. The survey also found that 1.7 million children were involved in housekeeping activities, such as cooking, preparing food, washing dishes, house cleaning, washing and ironing clothes and taking care of younger siblings. See Republic of Zambia Central Statistics Office, Zambia 1999 Child Labor Survey, Table 4.26, 39.

3879 Republic of Zambia Central Statistics Office, Zambia 1999 Child Labor Survey, Table 4.30, 41.

3880 Ibid., Tables 4.7 and 4.15. See also A.J. Cheraw, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, letter to USDOL official, June 6, 2001.

3881 ILO-IPEC, National Program on the Elimination of Child Labour: project document, 2. See also USAID, UNICEF, and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Orphans and Vulnerable Children: A Situation Analysis, Study Fund Project, Lusaka, Section 2.

3882 USAID, UNICEF, and (SIDA), Orphans and Vulnerable Children: A Situation Analysis, 8. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Zambia, Washington, DC, March 4, 2002, 745-46, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/.

3883 United Nations, Common Country Assessment – Zambia 2000, 49.

3884 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2002.

3885 USAID, Global Education Database [CD-ROM], Washington, DC, 2002.

3886 Enrollment rates have only marginally increased since 1990. There are a number of causes for this, including inadequate number of schools, distance between homes and schools, poor infrastructure and poor or no learning materials. USAID, Overview of USAID Basic Education Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa III, Technical Paper, No. 106, SD Publication Series, Office of Sustainable Development, Bureau for Africa, Washington, DC, February 2001, 95.

3887 Ibid. Enrollment of girls is also lower than that of boys (approximately 10 percent lower in 1999), and this gender disparity appears to be growing. See also UNICEF, Children in Jeopardy: The Challenge of Freeing Poor Nations from the Shackles of Debt, New York, 1999, 5.

3888 Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 1991, (August 1991), Article 14 [cited November 6, 2001]; available from http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/za00000_.html. The Constitution, Article 24 states that "no young person shall be employed and shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development." A young person is identified as anyone below the age of 15 years.

3889 The Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (1933), Chapter 274, as cited in ILO-IPEC, Prevention, Withdrawal and Rehabilitation of Children: project document – Country Annex, 65. The Employment of Young Persons and Children Act states that "a young person shall not be employed on any type of employment or work, which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of that young person."

3890 Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 1991, Article 24.

3891 U.S. Embassy – Lusaka, unclassified telegram no. 3288. See also Cheraw, letter, June 6, 2001.

3892 The government has initiated a capacity building program to provide MLSS with more human and material resources, so as to be able to conduct inspections more effectively and cover larger areas, including the informal sector. See U.S. Embassy – Lusaka, unclassified telegram no. 1761.

3893 ILO, Ratifications by Country in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 10, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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