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2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bahamas

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 - Bahamas, 18 April 2003, available at: [accessed 18 February 2020]
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 Bahamas is an associated country of ILO-IPEC.189 In 1992, the Government of the Bahamas announced a five-year education development plan and in 1993 commissioned a federal task force on education.190 The goals of the education plan included improved access to and increased investment in primary education; and public expenditures on education increased throughout the 1990's from 15.6 percent of the national budget in 1991 to 21.7 percent of the national budget in 1997.191 This increase financed the construction of six new primary schools between 1992 and 1999, higher teacher salaries and investment in equipment.192

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 years in the Bahamas are unavailable.193 Some children work part-time in light industry and service jobs.194

Education is compulsory and free for children through age 16.195 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 93.2 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 87.3 percent.196 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for the Bahamas. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.197 Notwithstanding these efforts, the level of curriculum mastery for a significant number of students fell below the expected norm throughout the 1990s.198

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age of employment at 14 years for industrial work or work during school hours. Children under age 16 may not work at night. There is no legal minimum age for employment in other sectors, and the Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor.199

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws and its inspectors conduct on-site visits; however, inspections occur infrequently and are normally announced to the employer in advance.200 There are no laws that specifically address trafficking in persons. The Penal Code bans prostitution and prohibits the detention of persons against their will and for immoral purposes. As of 2001, there were no reports of trafficking, and the government had not prosecuted any trafficking cases.201

The Government of the Bahamas ratified ILO Convention 138 on October 31, 2001, and ILO Convention 182 on June 14, 2001.202

189 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labor: Highlights 2002, Geneva, October 2002, 16.

190 UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Bahamas, prepared by The College of the Bahamas- Research Planning & Development, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, December 12, 1997, [cited December 12, 2002]; available from

191 Ibid.

192 Teacher qualifications and teacher certifications have also increased over this period. Ibid.

193 Labor force statistics in the Bahamas are not collected on the population under 15 years of age. ILO, Laborstat Database of Labor Statistics, [database online] [cited December 4, 2002]; available from

194 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Bahamas, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, [cited December 12, 2002]; available from

195 Ibid., 2588-89, Section 5. See also Bahamas 2000 Ltd., Welcome to the Bahamas: Education,, [online] 2000 [cited December 3, 2002]; available from facts/education.html.

196 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002. UNESCO reports a gross primary enrollment rate ranging from 97.4 percent in 1990 to 99.2 percent in 1997, and a net primary enrollment rate ranging from 96.7 percent in 1990 to 99.2 percent in 1997. UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Bahamas.

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

198 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Bahamas, Section 4.

199 The Bahamas Independence Order, No. 1080, (July 10, 1973), Chapter III, Section 18 [cited December 12, 2002]; available from

200 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Bahamas, 2589-90, Section 6e.

201 Ibid., 2589-90, Section 6f.

202 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 11, 2002]; available from

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