A two-day National Action Plan (NAP) seminar that will address the fight against child labor as well as make recommendations to finalize a document for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, has been reviewed by stakeholders in Monrovia.
The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Labor in collaboration with the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC)/International Labor Organization and the WinRock/ARCH Project.
Topics discussed at the forum included: Nature and Incidences of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Liberia (WFCL); Causes of the CL/WFCL in Liberia; Justification, Goal and Timeframe of the NAP; Specific Objectives of the NAP; Guiding Principles; the Country’s Efforts to Date; and Prioritization.
Others are: Linkage With the National Development Agenda; NAP Intervention; Mainstreaming, Collaboration, Coordination and Partnership; Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; Risk and Mitigation Strategies.
All of these topics formed the summary presentation of the Draft NAP Document.
At the two-day interactive validation workshop, participants made several recommendations to the draft NAP document; key among them was the ‘Goal and Timeframe of the NAP,’ which aims “To reduce the Worst Forms of Child Labor by at least 50 percent by 2021.” The participants discussed and agreed that the timeframe was unrealistic and impossible to achieve and therefore the goal should be set for 2030 in line with Liberia’s national agenda: “The Agenda for Transformation (AFT) or Vision 2030.” The participants also called for the Government of Liberia to commit itself to the implementation of the NAP documents through budgetary allocation.
Deputy Labor Minister for Administration, Augustine W. Williams, who spoke at the opening of the seminar, said child labor is common in Liberia, and one does not need to be told about its increase.
According to him, child labor is mainly practiced in the informal sector and in homes; but to a large extent, government’s actions have reduced the participation of children in workplaces in the formal sector, especially with concessionaires who are seeking investment opportunities in Liberia.
He noted that though Liberia has made some gains in the fight against child labor, there are still challenges, particularly in the informal sector, where children are seen selling on the streets across the country.
He said the fact that Liberia has not ratified ILO Convention 138, Chapter 21 of the Decent Work Act of 2015 speaks to the concerns of the Convention.
He maintained that Liberia has taken steps “in an advanced manner” in addressing the minimum age required for children to enter the labor force of the country.
Mr. Williams called on the media to play their role as watchdogs of society in assisting the Government of Liberia, ILO and other partners in monitoring and reporting child labor cases in the country, adding that “as a Ministry we cannot be everywhere at the same time.”
Earlier, the Program Coordinator of IPEC/ILO, Mr. Salif Massalay, commended the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Labor, the WinRock/ARCH Project, and the National Commission on Child Labor (NACOMAL) for ensuring that Liberia has a National Action Plan (NAP) for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, which is also one of the deliverables of the Ministry of Labor under the AFT.
He expressed the ILO’s continuous commitment to ensuring that the Draft National Action Plan (NAP) Document on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in Liberia is finalized. He told workshop participants that Liberia and Somalia are the only countries in Africa that have not ratified ILO Convention
138 on the Minimum Age, and that if Liberia is truly committed to the fight against the worst forms of child labor, it must ensure the immediate ratification of this convention.
“Liberia has in the past attributed the delay to failure of the Legislature to enact into law the Decent Work Act 2015 (New Labor Law of Liberia). Now that the law has been passed and is being enforced, there should not be any reason why this convention will not be ratified,” he said.
He called on the Minister of Labor to help fast-track the ratification, which is key for the mobilization of support for the implementation of programs and projects geared toward the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in Liberia. He maintained that donor assistance in this fight “is hugely contingent upon the ratification of this convention.”
Other key institutions invited to the two-day event were: Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), and the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC).