By John Agaba and Damali Kisakye
A new report into child labour and youth unemployment in Uganda has ranked the Eastern region with the highest number of children (6 – 13 years) in employment.
The report released Tuesday by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics and the International Labour Organisation, shows that a total 720, 639 minors between years 6 to 13 are engaged in labour in the eastern region.
This is closely followed by the Central region with 717, 605 children involved in labour. The Western region comes third, with 645, 524 children involved in the illegal labour and the Northern region with 349, 016. Kampala has the lowest number of children involved in labour, only 7,885.
The Eastern region has 2,173, 738 children (6 – 13 years) in school, 1, 913, 078 in Western, Central 1,550,778 and 1,315,035 in the North.
According to the report, 31% of children (6 -13 years) are in employment. This is about 2,440,700 children who are engaged in labour.
It shows that about 62% of all children aged 6 - 13 years attend school exclusively while 29% of all 6 - 13 year-olds attend school while also working.
Only about 2% of this age bracket is in employment exclusively, while the remaining 7% of 6 - 13 year-olds are neither working nor going to school, the report says.
In absolute terms, about 143,200 children work exclusively, 4,873,500 attend school exclusively and 2,281,100 children combine schooling and work, while the remaining 513,200 children neither are in employment nor attend school.
It shows that children in rural areas are three times in employment than their peers in urban areas (34% against 11%), about 2,334,600: 106,000, mainly because of the large participation of the children in rural areas in subsistence agriculture and the fact that over 80% of Uganda’s total population resides in rural areas.
Overall, the report says the school attendance rate of rural children is about four percentage points less than that of urban children for the 6-13 years age group.
Hopolang Phororo, the ILO deputy director said the existence of child labour in Uganda was symptomatic of a combination of problems, among others, lack of sufficient or sustainable decent jobs, chronic poverty, and poor enforcement of laws and regulations.
She said there is a close relationship between child labour and youth unemployment, calling for scale up of efforts to avert child labour. .