Child labour is a violation of human rights that affects children’s development and limits their chances for upward social mobility.
Human rights are interdependent, indivisible and interrelated basic rights and freedom that belong to every person by virtue of being born as a human being. This strongly suggests that if one human right or freedom is interfered with, a series of other human rights may not be guaranteed due to their interconnectedness.
The assertion seems to be true if we critically examine how child labour and lack of freedom from hunger and poverty affect the right to education of girls in Nigeria. More specifically, we want to look at the north and see how this issue affects the right to education of the girl child.
FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR
Street hawking is a form of child labour that occurs in northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. It greatly affects girl child education as they are being denied access to basic education in favour of street hawking to support poor households.
Precisely, street hawking is evident not only in rural areas of northern Nigeria but also on the streets of urban centres. Girls are seen hawking many kinds of local food and fruits on trays, baskets and buckets such as fura-fura (millet food drink), mangoes and kola nuts, among many other items.
As little as 10 years or less, girls are sent out by their families to hawk goods for survival. Street hawking does not only affect their education, it also exposes them to a higher risk of rape, abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation by child abusers on the corners of the streets.
Another form of girl child labour existing in the north is domestic slavery.
HOW GIRL CHILD LABOUR AFFECTS EDUCATION AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS
According to United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report in 2022, 18.5 million children in Nigeria are estimated to be out of school. 60% of this statistic are girls, with a more significant percentage from the north.
In connection to this, it is easy to see the relationship between lack of realization of the right to an adequate standard of living in households and lack of freedom from hunger and poverty and child labour as they combine to affect access to basic education, among other factors such as insecurity and terrorism.
The right to education is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and other international and regional agreements. Such as the Convention Against Discrimination in Education in 1960 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, which Nigeria signed and ratified.
Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act in 2003 which was domesticated in some states and included the protection of a child’s right to education. The country should respect, protect and fulfill human rights.
In conclusion, child education is a basic human right and not a privilege as deemed ignorantly by some parents and guardians who interfere with the rights. Hawking affects their right to education as well as other human rights such as freedom from poverty and the right to social security.
Education is necessary for children’s overall development. It lifts them out of poverty and empowers them to become useful members of their society.