Research report - National Child Labour Action Programme for South Africa (1).doc

Affirmative responses to the standard questions

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Affirmative responses to the standard questions regarding pay, profit or economic family gain, to the prompts on fetching fuel or water, and to the prompts on housework where the child was not living with at least one parent, grandparent or spouse, were all considered ‘economic’ work, in line with international convention. Key findings At the time of the survey, there were an estimated 13,4 million children in South Africa between the ages of 5 and 17 years. Taking different cut-offs of the number of hours worked by a child per week, the following proportions of children engaged different work-related activities: With cut-off point for ‘economic’ work of three hours per week and seven hours per week for other types of work, 36% (4,8 million) of children in this age group were engaged in work. This can, of course, not be called child labour , unless there is evidence that the work that the children did was inappropriate or detrimental to their development. With a higher cut-off of 12 hours of economic activities per week, 14 hours of household chores and 12 hours of school labour, 12,5% (1,7 million) of children in South Africa were doing work. Long hours fetching fuel or water is the main reason for the work the children were doing. About one in every 31 children (3%, or 0,4 million) did economic activity (excluding fetching wood and water) for twelve or more hours. Boys were more likely than girls to be doing economic work. Of the children engaged in economic activities, 59% said they were working because they had a duty to help their family , and a further 15% said they worked to assist the family with money . The only other significant reason – accounting for 16% of working children – was for pocket money. Adults shared the same view as to why children were engaged in economic activities. As expected, older children were more likely than younger ones to do economic work. Children in deep rural (mostly ex-homeland) areas were the most likely to do economic work for three hours or more per week (12%), closely followed by those in commercial farming areas (11%). The incidence was about half these levels for urban informal (6%) and urban formal (5%) settlements. Most children who engage in economic activity do so unpaid in family enterprises, mostly in agriculture and retail, which are likely to be mostly micro enterprises. Of the children doing three hours or more, 59% worked in agriculture and 32% in trade . Of those in agriculture, many were working in subsistence agriculture , on family farms, rather than as paid employees. So, for example, only 12% of children working in agriculture were in commercial farming areas while 77% were in other rural areas. Similarly, in retail many were working in family businesses rather than as paid employees. Turning to the younger age group of 5-14 years olds, the industry breakdown for economic activities (excluding fetching fuel and water and unpaid domestic work) of children is reported in Tables 1.3 and 1.4 for two cut-off levels of at least three or 12 hours of work per week. They reveal that, of children
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