2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Botswana

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

Government efforts to address the worst forms of child labor in Botswana are in initial stages. In 2002, the Labor Department will work in consultation with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with technical assistance from ILO-IPEC to conduct a national child labor survey to determine the extent and nature of child labor.[278] Results from this survey will provide the basis for developing an action plan to implement ILO Convention 182.[279] The Government of Botswana is also working in consultation with UNICEF to implement its National Program of Action for Children to reduce the incidence of HIV-related infant mortality, increase access to universal basic education, and improve the protection of children in vulnerable situations, among other goals.[280]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, the ILO estimated that 14.9 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Botswana were working.[281] In urban areas, children orphaned by HIV/AIDS allegedly engage in begging and prostitution.[282] In remote areas, young children reportedly work as cattle tenders, domestic servants, and babysitters.[283]

Children who are citizens of Botswana have access to seven years of free primary education, but it is not compulsory.[284] In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 107.8 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 81 percent.[285] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Botswana. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[286]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Employment Act sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years, although children under 14 may work in family businesses. Children between 14 and 18 years are prohibited from working in hazardous conditions.[287] The Adoption Act contains provisions to protect adopted children from being exploited as cheap labor.[288] The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor.[289] Child prostitution and pornography are criminal offenses, and penalties apply to violations against children under the age of 16.[290]

The Ministry of Local Government, Lands, and Housing is the government agency that oversees the protection and welfare of children,[291] and the Commissioner of Labor is authorized to terminate unlawful employment of a child. Penalties for employers may include imprisonment up to 12 months, fines of 1500 Pula (USD 231), or a combination of both.[292] The Government of Botswana ratified ILO Convention 138 on June 5, 1997, and ratified ILO Convention 182 on January 3, 2000.[293]

[278] Unclassified telegram 3277, September 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 3277].

[279] Ibid.

[280] UNICEF, Preliminary Report: Botswana Multiple Indicator Survey 2001, at http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/natlMICSrepz/Botswana/BotsMICS_prelimina….

[281] World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2001] [CD-ROM].

[282] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Botswana (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 5, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/af/index.cfm?docid=677.

[283] Ibid. at Section 6d.

[284] Ibid. at Section 5. See also unclassified telegram 3277.

[285] World Development Indicators 2001.

[286] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see Introduction to this report.

[287] Submission by Botswana for Designation as a Beneficiary Under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, 10.

[288] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[289] Ibid. at Section 6c.

[290] Ibid. at Section 5.

[291] Government of Botswana, Ministry of Local Government Lands and Housing, at http://www.gov/bw/government/ministry_of_local_government_lands_and_hou….

[292] Unclassified telegram 3277. See also Currency conversion at http://www.carosta.de/frames/convert.htm on 1/29/02.

[293] ILOLEX databases: Botswana at http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/cgi-lex/ratifce.pl?C138 and http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/cgi-lex/ratifce.pl?C182.


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