VP U Myint Swe attends meeting on eradication of child labour

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VP U Myint Swe attends meeting on eradication of child labour

Vice President U Myint Swe, in his capacity as Chairman  of the Myanmar National Committee on Child Labour Eradication (MNCCLE) addressed the third coordination meeting of the said committee held at the meeting hall of the Ministry for Labour, Immigration and Population, Nay Pyi Taw, yesterday afternoon.

Present at the meeting were MNCCLE Vice Chairman Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe; committee members Union Ministers Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Dr Pe Myint, Dr Aung Thu, Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Dr Win Myat Aye and Nai Thet Lwin; Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Myo Aung; Chief Ministers of states/regions Dr Khet Aung, U L Phaung Sho, U Salai Lian Luai, U Myint Maung, Dr Lin Htut and U Hla Moe Aung; Deputy Ministers Maj-Gen Aung Thu, U Win Maw Tun and U Soe Aung, Deputy Attorney General U Win Myint, states/regions ministers U Min Ko Khaing, U Moe Kyaw Thu, U Tun Tun Oo, U Myint Swe, U Aung Kyi, U Tun Min Aung and U Kyaw Aye Thein; Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe, officials from eight work committees and national committee secretariat consisting of representatives of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Myanmar Industry and Service Workers’ Union; Myanmar Farmers Agriculture and Foodstuff Workers’ Union; Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affairs, Myanmar Red Cross Society; officials and invited guests.

In addressing the meeting the Vice President said the first coordination meeting the MNCCLE was held on 19 February 2018 where 9 decisions were made and all were being implemented. The second coordination meeting was held on 12 December 2018 where 14 decisions were made out of which 12 were implemented and two were still being implemented. Of the two the first was to coordinate and calculate Union Ministerial departments, Nay Pyi Taw Council area, States/ Regions government wise funds required to implement work programs and include in fiscal year 2019-2020 expenditures. This was still being done among relevant departments. The second was to include health care sector in the National Work Plan (draft) and it was a matter that would be conducted continuously once works exist. In order to complete these ongoing works there was a requirement to coordinate and setup a time frame, said the Vice President.

Eradication of child labour is a global issue which poses a huge challenge for our country as well. Besides, it is a national duty that needs to be fulfilled over the long term. It was important for not only the officials and organizations but also related sectors to consistently implement through exact and practical programs.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) studies 218 million youngsters between the ages of 5 to 17 years were working and a total of 152 million, 88 million males and 64 million females were child labour. Out of this, 73 million were working in dangerous work sites. In addition to this out of the 152 million, 72.1 million was in African countries, 62.1 million was in Asia-Pacific countries, 10.7 million in America, 1.2 million in Arab countries and 5.5 million in Europe and Middle East regions.

The role of youth and child development was very important in establishing a future image of a country and youth and children were invaluable resources of a country. Furthermore, in the majority of developing countries in the region, youths and children were being employed as workers to support manufacturing capacity. Especially in countries where challenges relating to poverty were faced, child labour was seen to be more widely employed.

According to the 2018 annual labour force assessment report Myanmar had 12.4 million children between the ages of 5 to 17 years out of which 1.6 million were working. 0.4 million were working in dangerous works and out of 12.4 million more than 30 percent were rural children and more than 20 percent were urban children. In the local child labour market the majority were children or youths between the ages of 15 and 17 years and most had education to primary level only.

Reducing and eradicating child labour was directly related to economic development of a country, increase in living standard and development in education as well as being the results of internal conflicts, poverty, migrating for works, natural disasters caused by climate change, food insufficiency and socio-economic difficulties that pushes the children away from education and drives toward becoming a child labour. These are the difficult and long term work processes that a developing country needs to resolve.

The majority of child labour could be found in agriculture, in factories and those working as housemaids due to poverty, lack of educational opportunities and a desire to support their families. It was to protect such children that national level child labour eradication work plans were being drawn up and implemented.

As the country was a developing country and facing difficulties in eradicating child labour, there were international criticisms but work would still be continued as this was a national duty. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) had an effect on the Child Labour Issue to a certain degree while special trade incentives support the country’s economic development and create job opportunities.

In eradicating child labour, it was not sufficient or possible to simply remove child labour from work sites. It was necessary to provide school age children to have free education, increase the number of civil society organizations protecting and caring for children, reducing poverty and instilling in the people the mindset to cooperate and participate together in eradicating child labour.

Child labour was to be eradicated by collecting of firm and accurate basic information, raising awareness, capacity building, creating opportunities in formal education and vocational education, strengthening the implementation part by enacting new laws and amending laws, removal of children from the worst form of child labour and rehabilitation and creating employment for the family. These were to be implemented by prioritizing the industrial manufacturing sector and trade and commerce sector.

In implementing child labour eradication, out of the 15 places that includes Nay Pyi Taw Council and the states and regions, Yangon Region, Bago Region, Ayeyawady Region, Kayin State and Mon State were designated as priority project areas. Children’s education, job opportunities, family situation, poverty situation were to be considered and work committees and main partner organizations were to cooperate toward designating priority works and implement it sector wise, said the Vice President.

He also invited the members of national committee, the chairpersons of eight working committees and the secretariat team of national committee, representatives of relevant associations and invited guests to discuss ongoing status, future plan, difficulties and requirements for the project.

Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe, the Vice Chairman of MNCCLE, briefed on the implementation of the programme.

Director-General of Factory and General Labour Laws Inspection Department U Nyunt Win, in his capacity as the joint secretary of committee, explained the implementation of decisions in the second coordination of national committee and the formation of eight working committees.

The chairpersons of these committees explained the respective works. Permanent Secretary U Tun Tun Naing talked about its Data Collection Working Committee, Permanent Secretary U Myo Myint Maung about Knowledge Dissemination and Capacity-Building Working Committee, Deputy Minister U Win Maw Tun about Education and Vocational Training Working Committee, Deputy Attorney-General U Win Myint about Legal Affairs Working Committee, Deputy Minister U Soe Aung about Eradication of Most Seriously Treated Child Labour and Their Recovery Working Committee, Director-General U Aung Htay Win about Employment Opportunities Creating Working Committee, Director-General U Nyunt Win about Monitoring and Scrutinizing Working Committee and Fund-Raising and Finance Working Committee.

Kayin state government’s Immigration and Human Resources Minister U Min Ko Naing, Bago region government’s Immigration and Human Resources Minister U Tun Tun Oo, Mon state government’s Immigration and Human Resources Minister U Tun Min Aung, Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe, and Ayeyawardy region’s Chief Minister U Hla Moe Aung explained about the ongoing and the future plans under the first five year short term of MNCCLE.

Union Ministers, as well as members of the committee, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Dr Pe Myint, Dr Aung Thu, Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Dr Win Myat Aye, U Thein Swe, Nai Thet Lwin; Deputy Ministers Maj-Gen Aung Thu, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Myo Aung; Chief Ministers Dr Khet Aung, U L Phaung Sho, U Myint Maung and U Lin Htut; and Permanent Secretary U Soe Han discussed about the challenges being faced and efforts in fighting against child labour, human resource development, educational programmes, collection of accurate data on child labour, reduction of child labour, food efficiency and creation of job opportunities, education for all school-age children, efficient vocational education and skill building programmes, provisions in Child Rights Law 2019, prevention of most seriously treated child labours, fund affairs, anti-trafficking in persons, definition of child labour, and future plans for eradication of child labour.

U Zarni Thwe, the General Secretary of Agriculture and Farmers’ Federation of Myanmar and Multi-Food Processing Workers Union, discussed the designated zones for eradication of child labours to complete this programme within the scheduled period.

Director-General of the Factory and General Labour Laws Inspection Department U Nyunt Win, in his capacity as joint secretary of committee, sought approval for 12 points discussed in the third coordination meeting of MNCCLE.

The Vice President gave comments and suggestions to ensure coordination based on the discussions and after which he gave concluding remarks to bring the meeting to a close.