A Review Of The Incidence Of Child Labour In Nigeria Effect And Consequences

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A Review Of The Incidence Of Child Labour In Nigeria Effect And Consequences


Nigerian children are working under unhealthy condition due to the necessity that pushes them to labour. Therefore, this study deals with the incidence and consequences of child labourin Nigeria. The prevalent and prime reason for child labour in Nigeria is the economic poverty that is seriously confronting the majority of Nigerians to some degree. It is the rate of poverty in Nigeria which leads biological parents and guardians to allow their biological children to work in the streets as hawkers, prostitutes and traffickers. This study seeks to examine the causes of child labor in Nigeria. The question is, are Nigerians created as a poor people or does the climate render them poor? The impact of child labour on children discussed in the study while effect of child labour in Nigeria was critically studied in the best interests of children. This research further studies the consequences of child labour in Nigeria from the social, economic, ethical, moral, and criminal perspectives. The findings shows that both parents and government contributed to the child labour in Nigeria due to their failure to provide adequate provisions for their children or citizens at large.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Over the last few decades, the phenomenon of child labour has become prominent globally with serious implications for the survival of the children. The presence of child labour in major cities of the world has transcended the level where it was viewed as strictly uncommon occurrence to a worrisome global problem. The problem is more escalating and alarming especially in developing countries (Sylvia, 2001; Ekpenyoung and Sibiri, 2011). Child labour is a widespread problem in the contemporary world, especially in the developing countries. A report of International Labour Organization ILO (2003) confirmed that Africa has the highest incidence of child labour with 40% of all its children aged 5-14 working. Asia is second to Africa with 21%, followed by Latin America with 17%. On the contrary in continents like Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, children below 15years rarely work except in commercial agriculture. This is because of the effective enforcement of laws passed in the first-half of the 20th century (ILO, 2006).

In Nigeria, child labour practices seem to be on the increase (Osiruemu, 2007). This is perhaps due to economic crisis, which started in the 1980s. The Nigerian economic crisis has made life worse for children of the poor whose parents have either lost their jobs or suffered a drastic decline of income (Enuka, 2006 and Onuoha, 2008). Problems such as malnutrition, high infant mortality, overcrowding, and others have been exacerbated as many Nigerian families were pushed below the poverty level even as a small class of people profited from the economic crisis. The economic crisis has also led to the abandonment of traditional and family responsibilities with serious effect on the underprivileged and the children. The outcome of this is clearly visible in the high increase of children who engage in child labour in both the formal and informal sectors (Dumalao, 2008).

Child labour, according to ILO, (1998 and 2005), UNICEF (2008), involves all works which are harmful to a child’s health. These works include any work that violates children’s fundamental human rights and any work that is dangerous or threatening. It also includes works that exhaust children’s strength and damage their bodies. Whatever works that prevents children from going to school to gain basic skills and knowledge for their future development is included in the definition of child labour. With this, child labour is a challenge that every modern society has to contend with.

Child labour has devastating effects on children, their families, communities in which they live, and generally on national development. The consequences of child labour on child development are obvious. They include health hazard, physical abuse, fatigue, poor school performance, academic wastage, sexual abuse, accident, youth violence among others. Physical and health consequences of child labour include stunting, breathing problems owing to exposure to toxic substances, accident proneness, contamination of cuts and wounds. While cognitive problems include not attending schools, class retention and high dropout rate and achievement deficits, social and physiological consequences include isolation of working children from their families and peer-groups, stigmatization of work by peers, lowering of self-esteem of children and perception of relative deprivation (lLO, 2002 and Oloko, 1999).

Many people and organisation are concerned about child labour. Various researches/project study on child labour, and numerous books and studies have been published on the subject. The concerns partly stem from the kinds of work children do, some of which cause irreversible physical or psychological damage or even thereafter their lives, and partly from the overwhelming number of children who work (Anker, 1998; Bass, 2004; Weston, 2005; Rabiu, 2010; Onimajesin, 2011).

In spite of all these efforts to combat the menace of child labour, it is still prevalent in most countries of the world today including Nigeria. It is in this context that the present study sets out to review the incidence of child labour in Nigeria, with specific attention to its effects and consequences.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Over the years, child labor issue has come to be a formidable clog on the wheel of socio-economic progression of most developing countries. Distinguished from child work (work which its primary goal is on learning, training and or socialization) child labor connotes work that is essentially exploitative and injurious to the child’s physical, social, cognitive and moral developments (UNICEF 2001). It occurs when children are exposed to long hours of work in a dangerous and unhealthy environment at the expense of their schooling.

Its prevalence and daunting effect are reportedly rife in developing nations of the world. For example, in 2000, over 211 million children between the ages five to fourteen were involved in child labour worldwide (ILO, 2013). Of this number, 2.5 million (1.4%) were from developed countries whileub-Saharan Africa recorded the highest percentage (Bass 2004). The unabated sight of children in sub-Saharan African working in agriculture, as street vendors, shop and market stall minders, beggars, shoe shining boys, car washers/watchers, scavengers and head-loaders further buttresses the scenario (UNICEF 2001).The negative effect of this narrative is mainly on the health, physical, mental and emotional status of the children. Increasingly, child laborers are exposed to all kinds of diseases and the risk of serious cuts which can easily become infected. Empirical evidence shows that parental socioeconomic profiles determine to a large extent whether or not a child works. The link between parents and sense of obligation on their children have eroded as more and more children are procured from impoverished rural families by middle men, driven majorly by commercial motive, and transported long distances to work in urban households (UNICEF 2001).

Another consequence is the denial of educational opportunity. Often, rural poor children even when formally enrolled in school are pulled out to assist parents in farming activities such as cattle herding or fishing. Today, about 75% of children aged 6-16 in the south-south region of Nigeria were not attending school because of difficulties of access to school or involvement in fishing (Ezewu & Tahir E-1997). The situation is not distinct among children in the urban areas. The implication is that, those who manage to combine work with schooling often perform consistently and significantly worse than none working pupils (Oloko B-1994, UNICEF 2001).
As a response to the menace and its challenges, many nations have continually adopted distinctive strategies to curb it. In Nigeria for example, education is made compulsory and relatively free for all children. Several policies and legislation were rolled out by the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve child welfare and reduce child labor. Also in the Federal Labor Act, the Government has set the minimum age for the employment of children at twelve years which should be in force in the 36 states of Nigeria. The Act thus; permits children at any age to perform light work in domestic service or work with family member in Agriculture but prohibits the worst forms of labour, including the forced labour of children and use of children in prostitution or in armed conflict. However, it has been observed that some of these legislations and policies have deteriorated, and are not being imposed or enforced, thereby providing fertile ground for many children not to attend school at all (ILO 2013, Awosusi & Adebo,2012; Elijah & Okoruwa, 2006). This is to say that child labour rather than education seems to have taken the center stage with huge consequences on the child’s social, economic and welfare. However, it is important to note that whereas these studies have concentrated at the continental level, scanty data is available in literature on what the situation is in Nigeria. It is against this background that this study seek to review the incidence of child labour in Nigeria, with specific attention to its effects and consequences.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The overall aim of this study is to the incidence of child labour in Nigeria, with specific attention to its effects and consequences. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;

  1. Examine the main causes of child labor
  2. Determine the consequences of child labor in the contemporary Nigeria.
  3. Ascertain the impact of child labor on economic growth of Nigeria.
  4. Find out the role of stakeholders in eliminating child labor in Nigeria
  5. Unveil the national action plan to eliminate child labor in Nigeria

1.4 Research Question

The study will be guided by the following questions

  1. What are the main causes of child labor in Nigeria?
  2. What are the consequences of child labor in the contemporary Nigeria?
  3. What are the impact of child labor on economic growth of Nigeria?
  4. What is the role of stakeholders in eliminating child labor in Nigeria?
  5. What is the national action plan to eliminate child labor in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

Research is needed to understand the phenomenon of child labor abound at the national level.

The significance to this study is to throw light on the need for government to recognize and protect the rights of a child. It is also very important that this research will put in order corrective programme which are aimed at enlightening, encouraging and educating the masses on the need to assist from child labour.

The findings of this study will provide suggestions to policy makers on the most efficient ways to direct education interventions and, in the aftermath, develop a policy implementation checklist for all policy stakeholders. Moreover, a study of this nature has the potential to help bilateral and multilateral donors to comprehend how to support state efforts to increase access to education and other related preconditions that will discourage children from child labor. The insights provided by this study are aimed at encouraging closer cooperation between the ministries (Parastatals) concerned and to help to improve national cooperation among developmental partners. Because the phenomenon of child labor is a sensitive one, this study has contributed to the ongoing advocacy to eliminate child labor.

Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as literature review. This means that, other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regards to the incidence of child labour in Nigeria, with specific attention to its effects and consequences.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study focuses on the incidence of child labour in Nigeria, with specific attention to its effects and consequences. Furthermore, the study will be narrowed to the main causes of child labor, the consequences of child labor in the contemporary Nigeria, the impact of child labor on economic growth of Nigeria, the role of stakeholders in eliminating child labor in Nigeria, and the national action plan to eliminate child labor in Nigeria.

1.7 Methodology of the Study

This study is based on a qualitative approach, in which information is obtained from secondary sources, and it will be analysed using a narrative method that will lean more towards the historical approach. This study, being descriptive as well as historical, relied essentially on secondary information sources gathered by the researcher via many books, articles, group discussions, and casual face-to-face interviews.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researcher encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection. More so, the researcher simultaneously engaged in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Child Labour:

Any act of making a person under 18 years to work long hours which are harmful to his/her mental, physical and emotional development.

Child Trafficking:

Any monetary or non- monetary exchange of children for sexual or military exploitative which can hamper the fundamental rights of children in Nigeria.

1.10 Organisations of the Study

The study is categorized into five chapters. The first chapter presents the background of the study, statement of the problem, objective of the study, research questions, the significance of the study, scope/limitations of the study, methodology and definition of terms. The chapter two covers the review of literature with emphasis on conceptual framework, and theoretical framework. Likewise, the chapter three presents the determinants and consequences of child labor in the contemporary Nigeria. The second to last chapter being the chapter four presents the impact of child labor, child rights protection, and the role of stakeholders in eliminating child labor, while the last chapter(chapter five) contains the conclusion and recommendation.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

Child labor has been in existence since the Industrial Revolution, and has historically been a source/provider of cheap labor; hence, it is resilient despite mounting criticisms. Poverty is the prime factor and major cause of child labour in Nigeria. The low income of working children’s parents worsens the children’s conditions and forces them into the labour force. Government ineffectiveness is another cause of child labour for their failure to provide the basic needs of the citizens. However, child labour cannot be eradicated until the Nigerian government appoints or elects honest, committed, disciplined, and pious people to office. The children of leaders should study in Nigerian public schools and go to public hospitals for treatment. The Nigerian government also needs to return child drop-outs into school in order to have access to education for all. Indeed, many Nigerian children are working more than reasonable hours in detrimental conditions. Under the Nigerian Labour Act, there are no specific wages for under-aged child because it is illegal for a child under fourteen years old to work, perhaps, the persisting conditions cause many child to flock into the labour market in order to survive. However, many Nigerian working children are becoming nuisances to society because of their involvement in crime and immoral behaviour and dysfunctional attitudes against themselves and other genders. Child labour has a great impact on the nation concerned bothsocially and economically while working children are suffering psychological problems. Discipline and caning should not be considered as child abuse unless they are applied illegally, irrationally, and unjustifiably. If discipline is exercised for the purpose of changing and correction, it should be considered as one of the child’s rights.

5.2 Recommendation

  1. Genuine efforts to address the issue of child labor should begin by addressing the high incidence of poverty within the general population. Poverty is at the root of the residual child labor activities in Nigeria. Thus, any program aimed at the eradication of child labor must recognize the link between poverty and child labor. Instances abound in this study where students dropped out of school on account of lack of money to buy books, uniforms, and other essential materials necessary for continued sustenance.
  2. Provision of social assistance to extremely poor individuals and household. This may entail payment of school fees and approved institutions from governments and non-governmental agencies to individuals or households.
  3. Social welfare service is highly needed to protect children against abuse and consequences of livelihood, health and social insurance to help secure services in times of need.
  4. Lack of access to good quality education is the second principal cause of child labor (Haile & Haile, 2012. Thus, any attempt to address the question of child labor must strive to achieve the universal basic education standard. While it could be inferred from the study results that genuine attempts at implementing free and compulsory education policy by the government is not effective in Nigeria, the goal of universal basic education also requires the availability of teachers to teach the children. The present situation of a high teacher-pupil ratio in Nigeria does not augur wellfor achieving the goal of universal basic education. Thus, efforts should be geared towards the recruitment/employment of more teachers in Nigeria schools to teach the children.
  5. To achieve the goal of education sector preparedness to implement the child labor policy, efforts should be made to provide the requisite infrastructure in Nigerian schools. Without a good network of infrastructural facilities in the various schools, the goal of achieving education sector preparedness will remain elusive. Akinwale (2010) provided corroborative evidence on the deplorable state of infrastructure in Nigeria.
  6. Capacity development for teachers, health personnel and social workers, the police and judges through investing awareness on preventative services to address child abuse.

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