Papua New Guinea (PNG) ratified the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention and the Worst forms of Child Labour Convention in 2000. PNG legislation covers the minimum age and prohibits hazardous work.
However, the study indicates that while there is law on child labour, the law is insufficient and the implementation unsatisfactory. Furthermore, education in PNG is neither free nor compulsory.
The objective of the ILO study was to:
1. Examine the extent of child labour in PNG and the nature of children’s work in 2 sectors of the economy and society:
– Children in commercial sexual exploitation
– Children working on the street
2. Identify the factors that contributed to child labour (causes and pathways) and the impacts of child labour through:
– Asking the children
– Interviewing stakeholders
– Conducting focus group discussions
3. Identify consequences and impacts of child labour on working children and examine the attitudes and perceptions of children and stakeholders towards education and the work that children do
The survey results indicate that there are an increasing number of children involved in the worst forms of child labour in Port Moresby.
For many young people work was an indispensable condition for their survival and that of their family due to poverty. The union has argued that the present minimum wage is not adequate to support a family and this leads to an atmosphere conducive to child labour as families find a way to make ends meet.
Family breakdown, neglect or abuse at home was also identified as push factors.
The survey found that the majority of working children were out of school or had never been to school. A UNESCO representative reported that ‘only a little over half of the children who enrolled [in school in PNG] completed primary education’.
The lack of education implies poor employment opportunities and hence, poverty. PNG’s only female parliamentarian noted that children working on the street are ‘perhaps a by-product of the inability of the system to provide education opportunities for all’.
Yet many of the children interviewed had aspirations to attain work that was not on the street or hazardous; and saw education as a road to a good future.