Uganda: Child Labour in Tea Plantations

40,000 children work in tea plantations in Tooro, Western Uganda. Across Africa nearly 50 million children work, the majority of these in agriculture. A new report from the International Labour Organization highlights the role played by Ugandan employers, trade unions and government in eliminating child labour.

Date issued: 30 May 2006 | Size/duration: 00:01:55 (3.6MB)
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In the tea plantations of Western Uganda, some 40,000 children work hard picking tea. They earn just 30 US cents a day.

Africa has the highest proportion of working children in the world.

Eliminating child labour here is not straightforward. Poverty and communities weakened by HIV/AIDS leave families with few options.

According to a new global report on child labour from the International Labour Organization, school enrolment in Uganda doubled between 1995 and 2000. The new challenge is to stay in school until graduation.

Kenneth Kyamulesire, General manager, Mabale Grower’s tea factory

The unions have been very active to try to sensitize the employers that it is wrong to employ children and deny them a lot of opportunities and I think it has made an impact. A lot of kids have been taken out of this regular employment.

Tooro radio presenter

Today we have come to tell you that the number has gone up to 365. These children have been taken out from the tea shambas, from the outgrowers and are now in school studying.

At the Voice of Tooro and other radio stations across Uganda, presenters have been active as well raising awareness about efforts to end child labour.

Paddy Twesigomwe, regional secretary for the National Union of Plantation & Agricultural workers of Uganda

ILO helped a lot when it put the program on the radio. Everybody listened, the parents, the guardians and the children themselves.

The challenge now is for communities to find alternatives to child labour and to make education more affordable.

Aituhe Annet, 15 years

Now that I am in school sometimes I go to pluck tea on Saturdays but sometimes I can’t manage.

A lot has changed for 15 year old Aituhe Annet. Having spent so much time on the tea estate, she has a lot of catching up to do, but for her and millions of other children, education now comes first.