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Child Rights activists in Kabarole and Kyenjojo districts have raised the alarm over the failure by local authorities to address the increasing cases of child labour. Child labor is common in Kabarole and Kyenjonjo districts as minors are deployed on tea farms.
The two districts are among the leading tea growers in the country and statistics show that majority of the tea growing households employ children. Findings by Rwenzori Child Concern, a non-governmental organization in Fort Portal show that currently 8.4% of the children between the ages of 6 and 16 years are engaged in tea growing and have dropped out of school.
The activists argue that the local leaders have failed to tackle the problem, despite passing ordinances to address the vice. David Tusiime, the Program Officer Rwenzori Child Concern, says the leaders look on as children drop out of school to work in tea plantations.
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Catherine Kemigisa, an official from Fort Portal Child Rights says local leaders lack the political will to fight child labor. She says the leaders shunned invites to participate in the Stop Child Labor campaign last year.
Helen Kaija, Bugaki Sub County district woman councilor, where child labor is rampant, says that they face challenges to implement the ordinance. She says whenever they try to arrest the culprits they are threatened by the community.
Kaija, who is also a member of the community development committee, says some parents claim they send their children to work on the tea estate in the name of looking for school fees. Kabarole district Education Inspector Francis Rujumba says failure to implement the ordinance has made parents lazy to send their children to school.
Gerald Magezi, the Rwenzori Region Labor Officer says shortage of staff in the labor departments is hindering enforcement of labor laws. He says that the labor office is supposed to have two assistants to inspect places of work to ensure that young children aren\'t employed.
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According to the Ugandan labor law, a child under the age of 14 should not be employed in any business or workplace except for light work carried out under supervision of an adult and does not affect his or her education.
The law also empowers any person who is concerned about the child's welfare and sees that the child is working in unsuitable conditions to report the case to the labor officer in the district.
Statistics from the Ministry of Labor, Gender and Social Affair, indicate that Uganda has 2.7 million children subjected to forced labor.