Gaborone- Botswana has not fulfilled its obligation of drawing a hazardous list of work for children, despite ratifying the UN Charter on the Rights and Welfare of a Child as well as African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children more than 10 years ago.
It is against this background that the labour ministry in collaboration with BFTU and BOCCIM held a workshop on hazardous list of work for children.
The Friday meeting also involved NGOs and government departments.
The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Peter Siele said Botswana was obliged to comply with the conventions it ratified.
He said the Employment Act sets minimum age of employment at 15 years and authorises light or non hazardous work for the same age.
"Young persons aged 15 but not yet 18 years are allowed to perform light work or non hazardous work but the hazardous aspect of the work young people are not permitted to do is neither elaborately identified nor defined despite this being a requirement by the International Labour Organisation," Mr Siele stated.
He pointed out that the labour force survey of 2005/2006 reported that at least 8.5 per cent of children were found to be working and this did not include street children or children not living in fixed structures.
Minister Siele said child work includes activities by children that are not necessarily considered harmful and activities done in support of family business, paid work and chores.
Child labour on the other hand, he said, is defined as work that deprives the children of their childhood, their dignity and potential and also harmful to their physical, mental, social and moral development, interferes with their schooling requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
He acknowledged that for many, it becomes difficult to determine the precise line at which child work turns into child labour.
In 2004, the labour ministry in collaboration with BFTU and BOCCIM identified eight areas of concern with regard to child labour.
The areas included children involved in excessive domestic household chores, working in agriculture, used by adults to commit crime and being victims of sexual exploitation.
Others included children working in liquor, retail and informal sectors.
He said it was evident that children were exposed to all sorts of hazard hence the need to identify work that is likely to endanger the lives of children as well as come up with the necessary programmes, policies and legislation to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of the children.