Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 09:27 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Somalia

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 - Somalia, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748ae3c.html [accessed 16 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.

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

Somalia has no national government and therefore no national policy or programs on child labor or education.3293 Since 1996 the international effort to improve education in Somalia has been coordinated by the Education Sectoral Committee of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), made up of UN agencies, donors, and international NGOs.3294 The SACB has emphasized as its major goals improving access to education, improving learning conditions, enhancing teacher training, and creating a financially viable management capacity.3295 UNICEF provides in-service training of teachers, develops curricula, and supplies textbooks and other necessary educational material.3296 UNICEF, UNESCO and some NGOs have also distributed sets of textbooks and other instructional materials to a small number of Koranic schools in Somalia and have created a program to try to make Koranic schools supplement or substitute for formal primary education.3297 In 1999, the Somaliland authority drafted guidelines for its comprehensive education policy; however, no action had been taken on the policy by the end of 2001.3298

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, UNICEF estimated that 41.9 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were working in Somalia.3299 Children are engaged in herding, agriculture and domestic labor.3300 In addition, children under age 15 have been recruited by militias, with boys as young as 10 years old serving as bodyguards for faction leaders.3301 There also are reports of Somali children being trafficked for the purpose of forced labor.3302

Primary education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14 years.3303 The Transitional National Charter guarantees a free basic education up to secondary school;3304 however, 62 percent of schools in Somalia require families to pay fees, averaging USD 15.60 per year for each child.3305 In addition, many schools lack textbooks and running water.3306 In 1999, the gross primary enrollment rate was 9 percent, with 11.8 percent for boys and 6.3 percent for girls.3307 In 1999 UNICEF estimated that 58.4 percent of primary school-age children attended school, and 72.5 percent of children who had entered first grade actually reached the fifth grade.3308 Also according to UNICEF, only an estimated 10 percent of children aged 6 to 14 have access to formal schooling.3309 Many students attend Koranic schools, though these schools do not provide broad-based education.3310

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Somalia has no national government and has no means for enforcing labor laws.3311 Somalia is not a member of the ILO and has therefore not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.3312


3293 The Transitional National Government, based in Mogadishu, represents Somalia in the United Nations and other international organizations. It has yet to establish its authority over most of the country and has little control over most government services, which are administered by provincial governments, if at all. See U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Somalia, April 2002, [cited September 19, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/ 2863.htm. See also UN Somalia, Somalia History, United Nations, [cited September 19, 2002]; available from http://www.unsomalia.org/infocenter/history.htm.

3294 Somalia Aid Coordination Body, The Somalia Aid Coordination Body on the Net, [cited September 23, 2002]; available from http://www.sacb.info/main_intro.htm.

3295 Somalia Aid Coordination Body, SACB Education Sectoral Strategy, [cited September 23, 2002]; available from http://www.sacb.info/commitees/education/SACB%20EDUCATION%20SECTORAL%20STRATEGY.doc.

3296 UNICEF Somalia Review Aug [sic] 2002, ReliefWeb, 2002 [cited September 13, 2002]; available from http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/9ca65951ee22658ec125663300408599/ b950cdab2144fb76c1256c31003dfa39?OpenDocument.

3297 UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Somalia, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 1999, [cited September 19, 2002]; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/ somalia/rapport_2.html.

3298 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Somalia, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 597-98, Section 5 [cited December 17, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/ 8403.htm.

3299 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. See Government of Somalia, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2 (MICS2), UNICEF, [cited December 17, 2002]; available from http://www.ucw-project.org. See also UNICEF, Somalia: List of Tables, [online] [cited December 17, 2002]; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/ natlMICSrepz/Somalia/TablesFinal150101.pdf.

3300 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Somalia, 598-99, Section 6d.

3301 Ibid.

3302 Ibid.

3303 UNESCO, Somalia- Education System, [cited September 12, 2002]; available from http://www.unesco.org/iau/cddata/so.rtf.

3304 Transitional National Charter, Article 14, Section 3.

3305 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Assessment: Somalia.

3306 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Somalia, 597-98, Section 5.

3307 The enrollment figures came from responses to questionnaires for UNICEF's 1998-99 school survey data. In this study UNESCO defines a primary school as one for children ages 6 to 14. See UNESCO, EFA 2000 Assessment: Somalia.

3308 UNICEF's MICS2 study looked at children ages five and older in regard to education. According to UNICEF, 77 percent of children in the central-south of Somalia who entered grade one reached grade five as did 74 percent in the northeast and 80 percent in the northwest. See UNICEF, Somalia: List of Tables. See also Government of Somalia, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2. NetAid, an NGO, estimates that "four out of every five children have no access to any schooling whatsoever." See NetAid, Somalia- Concern, NetAid.org, [online] [cited December 17, 2002]; available from http://www.netaid.org/projects/project_index.pt?project_id=10231. The U.S. Department of State's Human Rights Report also cites the 10-20 percent enrollment figure. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Somalia, 597-98, Section 5.

3309 UNICEF, Girls' Education in Somalia, [online] [cited September 12, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/ programme/girlseducation/action/cases/somalia.htm.

3310 Emergency Updates- Somalia, Save the Children- UK, 2002 [cited September 12, 2002]; available from http://savethechildren.org.uk/emer_updates/Somalia.html. Two studies conducted by UNICEF in the late 1990s found that 59 percent of the children in the North West zones and 39 percent of the children in the North East zone attended Koranic school for two to two and one-half hours per day, usually for up to two years, between the ages of 4 and 10. See UNESCO, EFA 2000 Assessment: Somalia.

3311 U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Somalia. See also UN Somalia, Somalia History.

3312 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/ newratframeE.htm.

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