Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 09:51 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - The Gambia

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 - The Gambia, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7489032.html [accessed 28 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 the Gambia began implementing an education initiative in 1998, with USD 15 million in loan support from the World Bank. The project will last until 2005 and is intended to increase the gross enrollment rate to 90 percent, improve educational opportunities for girls, strengthen basic education curricula, and improve teacher training.1470 The government's education efforts are also supported through a joint project with UNICEF which began in February 1999 and will end in 2003.1471 Through the 1990s, spending on education increased from 15 to 21 percent of government expenditures, and the share of the education budget devoted to primary education increased from 38 to 45 percent.1472

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 26.9 percent of the children ages 5 to 14 years in the Gambia were working.1473 Children in rural areas mainly work on family farms and assist with housework; many children in urban areas work as street vendors or taxi and bus assistants.1474 Other sectors where children ages 14 to 17 years are known to work are carpentry, sewing, masonry, plumbing, tailoring, and mechanics.1475 Some children work in commercial sexual exploitation.1476 Sex tourism is a problem in the Gambia and involves both boys and girls, although its existence is not recognized by the government.1477 Many girls in rural areas leave school to work, and some migrate to urban areas seeking domestic or other employment.1478 A popular media source reported that five foreigners were deported by the police in 2001 for trafficking young girls into the Gambia and employing them as commercial sex workers.1479

The Constitution mandates free and compulsory primary education to 8 years of age, but a lack of resources and educational infrastructure has made implementation difficult.1480 One obstacle to education was removed in 1998 when the President of the Gambia ordered the termination of fees for the first six years of schooling.1481 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 81.4 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 60.9 percent.1482 Girls make up about 40 percent of primary school students. Enrollment of girls is low in rural areas where cultural factors and poverty dissuade parents from sending girls to school.1483 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for the Gambia. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.1484 Approximately 20 percent of school-age children attend Koranic schools, which usually have a restricted curriculum.1485

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Gambia's statutory minimum age for employment is 18 years, but it is reported that in practice, children often begin work at a younger age.1486 The legal framework governing child labor in the Gambia is limited, and there are no laws that restrict the sectors in which children can work.1487 There is no formal mechanism that specifically ensures compliance with child labor standards.1488 Employee labor cards list employee ages with the Labor Commissioner, but enforcement inspections rarely take place.1489 The Criminal Code prohibits procuring a girl under 21 years of age for the purposes of prostitution, either in the Gambia or outside of the country.1490 The Gambia has arrested and deported child traffickers.1491

The Government of the Gambia ratified ILO Convention 138 on September 4, 2000 and ILO Convention 182 on July 3, 2001.1492


1470 The 1998 project is the continuation of an education program that began in 1988 in the Gambia. World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Credit in the Amount of SDR 15.0 Million to the Republic of the Gambia for a Third Education Sector Project in Support of the First Phase of the Third Education Sector Program, No. 17903GM, August 7, 1998, 5. See also World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002. See also World Bank, Education and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Sector-Wide Approaches, The Gambia Education Case Study, January 2001, Annex 7, 107. A similar program to the one discussed above implemented in February 1999 as a joint project between UNICEF and the government of the Gambia. This project spans 1999-2003 and encompasses identical goals to those already mentioned. For further information, see UNICEF and Government of the Gambia, Programme of Cooperation 1999-2003, 31-34 [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://www.ungambia.gm/unicef/pdf/mpopart2.pdf.

1471 UNICEF and Government of the Gambia, Programme of Cooperation 1999-2003.

1472 Ibid.

1473 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. UNICEF, The Gambia Draft Report Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2000: Standard Tables for Gambia, New York, 2000, 64 [cited November 7, 2002]; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/gambia/GAMBIEtables.pdf.

1474 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: The Gambia, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 301-03, Section 6d [cited December 12, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/ af/8377.html.

1475 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, unclassified telegram no. 1032, October 2002.

1476 UNICEF, Country Profile: UNICEF in The Gambia, Programme Cycle: 1999-2003, [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://www.ungambia.gm/unicef/profile.html. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports 2001: The Gambia, 301-03, Section 6d. See also Saihou Mballow, Sex Trafficking in the Gambia, West Africa, ECPAT News, [online] March 2000 [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://www.dreamwater.net/ecpatusa/enews1.html.

1477 ECPAT International, Gambia, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited November 8, 2002], "Child Prostitution"; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/Countries.asp ?arrCountryID=62&CountryProfile=facts,affiliation,humarights&CSEC=Overwise,Prostitution,Pronography,trafficking&Implement=Coordination_cooperation,Prevention,Protection,Recovery,ChildParticipation&NationalPlans=National_plans_of_action &orgWorkCSEC=orgworkCSEC&DisplayBy=optDisplayCategory&GetcategoryName=Prostitution.

1478 UNICEF, Country Profile.

1479 allAfrica.com, Banjul Deports Three Foreigners Over Girl Trafficking, (This Day, Lagos), [online] November 8, 2001 [cited November 28, 2001]; available from http://www.allafrica.com/stories/20011080033.htm.

1480 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: The Gambia, 300-01, Section 5. See also UNICEF and Government of the Gambia, Programme of Cooperation 1999-2003.

1481 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: The Gambia, 300-01, Section 5.

1482 The gross primary enrollment rate increased from 63.9 percent in 1990 to 81.4 percent in 1998. World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002. However, according to Government of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) statistics, in 1999/2000 the gross enrollment rate for primary school was 72 percent and for girls was 47 percent. See also United Kingdom Department for International Development, The Gambia: The Gambian ICT Distance Education Programme, [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://www.imfundo.org/projects/ gambia.htm.

1483 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: The Gambia, 300-01, Section 5.

1484 For a more detailed description on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

1485 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: The Gambia, 300-01, Section 5.

1486 Ibid., 301-03, Section 6d.

1487 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, unclassified telegram no. 1032.

1488 Ibid.

1489 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: The Gambia, 301-03, Section 6d.

1490 Government of the Gambia, Criminal Code, 1964, Article 129 [cited December 12, 2002]; available from http://www.protectionproject.org.

1491 Several Nigerians trafficking girls into the Gambia were expelled in November 2001. See allAfrica.com, Banjul Deports Three Foreigners Over Girl Trafficking. A tourist was arrested and extradited for having sex with young girls. See Mballow, Sex Trafficking in the Gambia.

1492 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [online database] [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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