|Title||The Bureau of Statistics is extremely pleased to have been associated with the ILO/CIDA Regional Child Labour Project Office in the execution of the base line survey in the worst forms of child Labour in Parika, Guyana. The completion of this survey repre|
Parika and its environs have been shown to have a problem with child labour (Danns,
2002). The identified child labourers amounted to 133 children and were involved mainly
in itinerant vending. Associated with these children are other siblings who are perfect
candidates to follow along the same path of exploitation and retarded social growth.
The ILO Convention C182, on the Worst forms of Child Labour, highlights four
categories of child labour, namely:
b. All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and
trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory
labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in
c. The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of
pornography or for pornographic performances;
c. The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for
the production and trafficking of drugs;
d. Work, which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is
likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
In Parika and its environs, the form of child labour observed involved work which
satisfied condition d, that is, hazards to the health, safety and morals of the children.
The survey found that this type of activity by the children was premised on their efforts to
survive amidst harsh economic conditions. Their parents and guardians are trapped in a
poverty cycle of low wages which are too meagre to meet the daily needs of the children.
As such, many of the children dropped out of school in order to fend for themselves and
their family. Coupled with this scenario is the situation whereby the parents are
questioning the quality of education provided by the schools. Many custodians of these
children felt that it was better for the children to be out of school than in school. There
were reports from custodians of students in the surrounding areas of Parika of the
teachers hardly showing up for classes.
Some children worked long hours in the sun and rain. They were paid very little money
and were exposed to physical abuse. At a very young age they became street wise and
are the cadres for enrolment to the world of gangsterism and crime. They are silently
crying for help. A few non-government organizations have heard their pleas but not
enough is being done. Only 6% of the working children have received help from such
organizations which was by way of meals once per month.
The Parika market, main road and wharf, Zeeburg and Zeelugt seawalls, and the outlying
farms were the major areas which had the greatest incidence of child labour. As a
rapidly growing community, these are areas with the most economic activities. The
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farms in Parika, Ruby and Naamryck back dams provided produce for the daily Parika
market and areas as far away as Georgetown, the capital of Guyana (see map on page 6).
The Parika market and wharf also caters for produce from the Essequibo mainland and
islands. It also serves as a transshipment point whereby agricultural produce is sent by
road to Georgetown and elsewhere in Guyana.
Goods in the form of legal imports and contraband from Venezuela also circulate in the
area. People from outside Parika usually flock there on the Thursday and Sunday market
days to make purchases which are said to be relatively cheap compared to prices
The growing importance of Parika for commercial activities has led to the establishment
of branches of three commercial banks. In addition, the regional administration of the
area has constructed a new marketing site in a bid to move the large number of roadside
vendors off the main road.
This report provides information on the status of the working children in Parika and its
environs. Based on ILO convention 182, an operational definition of the worst form of
child labour was used to identify the child labourers. Working children, who satisfied
the specified conditions, were interviewed and their collective profile described in the
The children worked mainly to meet their material needs since their custodians were not
providing enough towards the households’ demands for food, shelter and clothing. As
such, many of the children said going to school was too expensive and thus they opted to
The main consequence of such activities was the loss of an adequate educational
foundation for the children in order that they could meet the demands of an ever changing
world. If an intervention to their circumstances is not made, then they would most likely
continue to work long hours in the sun and rain and be subjected to physical, sexual and
The working children perceived their participation in the world of work to have yielded
greater material comforts since they are able to add to the household pool of wealth,
however their overall poverty status would not have changed significantly. As such the
cycle of poverty in which their households are currently trapped could only change if the
stagnation and retardation in their social and academic status is reversed. The report also
provides details on the children’s households and the general circumstances of the
The findings of the survey exposes the harsh realities of life for child labourers and it
would hopefully act as a spring board for remedial work to rehabilitate the affected
children. However, one has to be cautious with such rehabilitation since as far as
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possible such actions must take into consideration the state of mind of the children and
Recommendations are given towards arresting the growth in the worst forms of child
labour in Parika and its environs. Of specific importance is the need to provide some
interim relief to the households while the working children are channelled towards social
and academic activities geared for their development.
The custodians and their charges must be shown the long term benefits of education and
training and be encouraged to develop along those lines. Role models in their midst
must be vocal in advising these children and their custodians to make the necessary
sacrifices in order that their standard of living can rise by way of more productive work
which can come from solid educational development. The ranks of the child labourers
can only diminish if the sale pitch to these individuals is successful.
It is hoped that the findings and recommendations for Parika and its environs can result in
the development of programmes aimed at curbing child labour in that area. Such
programmes must be of a long term nature. Shortly after, the focus can shift to other
areas of Guyana with the eventual evolution of a national policy on child labour.
|»||Guyana - Population and Housing Census 2002|