World Day Against Child Labour

World Day Against Child Labour sheds light on working children in Jordan’s agricultural sector

ILO Jordan holds events for children working on farms to highlight importance of education on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour.

News | 12 June 2019
Ramtha and Mafraq, Jordan (ILO News) The ILO organised a series of events for children working on farms in Jordan on Tuesday (June 11) to mark World Day Against Child Labour.

Performers entertained children with a variety of games and competitions at the events held in the cities of Mafraq and Ramtha that aimed to promote education and raise awareness on the dangers faced by children working in Jordan’s agricultural sector. Around 200 children participated in the activities, the majority of whom are Syrian refugees who live and work at nearby farms.

“Today has been very nice. They came and we played games. I wish I could go back to being a child again and to study and everything,” said 12-year-old Bayan who moved to Jordan from Syria a few years ago and now works on a farm with her family picking fruit. “I want to become a doctor one day so I can treat people for free.”

This year’s celebration of World Day Against Child Labour promotes the theme, “Children Should Work on their Dreams, not in the Fields!” Child Labour is a key concern in Jordan’s agricultural sector, where 72 per cent of farmers recently surveyed by the ILO indicated that children under the age of 15 were working in their operation. More than half of surveyed agriculture workers reported a lack of accessible schooling options for their children and a lack of suitable childcare arrangements. As a result, families bring their children to work for lack of a better option.

“There is no school close to here for me to go to. This is why I don’t go to school,” said 15-year-old Moaad who spends his days picking fruit and loading heavy boxes onto trucks. “I like maths and I hope to become a teacher one day.”

The events are part of a wider awareness raising campaign being implemented by the ILO under its project “Addressing the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Jordanian Agriculture Sector.” The project seeks to reduce the incidence of the worst forms of child labour in agriculture among host communities and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

“We are marking this year’s World Day Against Child Labour at farms in order to meet with working children directly and talk to them about the importance of education and the importance of going to school and we are doing this through singing and playing because we also want the children to have fun away from work,” said Maha Kattaa, Senior Regional Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist. “We know that many children may not be at school because of lack of schooling and this is why we are looking at ways to improve services that support children and their families, in order to move children away from the fields and back into the classrooms.”

Working children in agriculture

As part of the project’s efforts to gain a better insight into the needs of vulnerable children and their families, a survey was recently conducted in Irbid, Ramtha, Zarqa, Mafraq and Northern Jordan Valley, focusing on tent settlements where vulnerable agricultural workers are based. It targeted 89 households including 152 working children, almost all of whom are Syrian refugees.

A total of 90.8 per cent of working children surveyed said they are not enrolled in school, compared to 9.2 per cent who attend school. The most common reason (according to 59 respondents) given for not attending school is that they are the sole breadwinners of their families (42.4 per cent of whom are female); as well as lack of nearby schools (according to 44 correspondents), 52.3 per cent of whom are female.

64.5 per cent of working children who left school expressed the desire to return to school – with the majority (59.7 per cent of whom are female child labourers) saying they wish to return back to school out of desire for learning. At total of 35.5 per cent of working children said they did not wish to return to school.

Almost half the children surveyed (42.2 per cent) said they work 5-6 days a week, with the majority (57.1 per cent) of children working in agriculture saying they are paid less than one Jordanian Dinar (approximately USD 1.4) per hour.