Sunday, December 13, 2009

Increase in child labour in Arakan

August 5, 2009

Narinjara News: There has been a quantum leap in child labour in Arakan State after the state started facing severe economic crisis, said a social worker in Sittwe.

“If we compare child labour with last year, there has been an increase this year. Most child labourers are waiters in restaurants and teahouses, pavement vendors, newsvendors, plastic collectors everywhere in Arakan state,” he said.

Most children in Arakan state could not attend schools this year because of financial crisis in the family.

“Most children in rural areas could not attend schools in this academic session. Only 10 per cent of children from some villages in rural areas attended schools because most could not afford the expensive school fees,” he said.

A parent from Maungdaw said a student in a primary level school has to pay 5000 kyats for entrance and stationery fees in Maungdaw Township.

A traveller, who shuttles between Sittwe and Buthidaung by ship, said, “Yes, it is true many children in rural areas in Arakan could not join schools this year. Many aged between 10 and 15 are working in many places as child workers.”

On the ferry ships plying between Sittwe and Buthidaung, there are many children who sell food items in packages to passengers.

“I have never seen children selling food on the ships in the past. Now many children are seen selling foods packages on the ships,” the traveller said.

The number of child workers has increased in places like jetties and bus stations in major towns of Arakan including Kyauk Taw, Mrauk U, Sittwe, Ann, Minbya, kyauk Pru, Taungup and Thandwe.

A woman in Sittwe told Narinjara over telephone that the number of beggars has also increased since the onset of the monsoons in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan state. Among them, three fourths are children.

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