TUM Tackling Child labor in Tea And Coffee Supply Chains
Teachers Union of Malaŵi TUM has expressed concern with continued child labor in tea and coffee supply chains a development it has described as being retrogressive in the education and future of children.
TUM assistant program coordinator Pempho Manda made the remarks in Mzimba during training for teachers and school governance structures on their roles in abetting child labor in the coffee supply chain.
"Child labor is really rampant in Malawi in different supply chains it's actually a very big problem. It is really retrogressive when it comes to the development of our communities and the future of our children", said Manda.
Manda said this compelled TUM to team up with the International Labour Organization ILO to implement the Accelerating action in the elimination of child labor in supply chains of tea and coffee (ACCEL Africa ) project which aims at ending the vice in five districts in the country.
Among others, TUM is capacitating school governance structures with knowledge of what child labor entails and its consequences on the future of children.
"We expect that once they go back to their communities they will work together with other communities to fight child labor in the coffee supply chain", said Manda
TUM is also engaging teachers on how they can use the concept of Supporting Children Rights Education through Acts and Media - SCREAM methodologies to ensure that learners are empowered to fight child labor.
"We want them to be able to empower and engage learners in their schools and different clubs and raise awareness for them to actually know what child labor is and be able to stand with us in the fight against the vice", Said Manda.
The remarks come when national statistics indicate that 38% of children in Malaŵi are involved in child labor mainly due to poverty.
District labor officer at the Mmbelwa district council Russell Mhoni said the ACCEL project is complimenting government efforts in fighting against child labour
"Sometimes it's difficult for us to do such activities because of funding constraints but with the coming in of TUM its a plus for us as fighting child labor needs a multi-sectoral approach", said Mhoni
Mhoni said child labor is fueled by poverty hence the need to empower communities with income-generating ventures if the country is to do away with the malpractice.
One of the teachers in Kabena education zone where coffee is grown in Mzimba, Mayamiko Nkhonjera said many children in the area are being thrown into child labor mainly due to poverty in their families.
" This project is timely as many learners here end up dropping off school because they are involved in supplying labor in the coffee supply chain due to poverty", said Nkhonjera.
The ACCEL project being implemented in coffee supply chains in Mzimba and Chitipa, tea supply chains in Ntchisi, Thyolo, and Mulanje is being financially supported by the International Labour Organization to the tune of K150 million.