The Jesuit Center for Theological reflections (JCTR) has observed that child labour is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving universal primary education and sustainable development goals in Zambia.

And JCTR has noted that the cost of living decreased by K14.1 in the month of October, as compared to September 2017.

In a statement, JCTR media and information officer Tendai Posiana feared that child labour had a number of devastating implications on communities, and called on government through the Ministry of General Education to address factors that were escalating child labour in the country.

“Child labor is caused by a number of factors which include high poverty levels, huge demand for supply of unskilled labour, high illiteracy levels, high cost of education and early marriages. The ever increasing cost of living especially in urban areas is also at the heart of child labour as children opt to work than to go to school on account of inability to afford high cost of education and other basic needs. Child labor has a number of negative consequences on the growth of children,” she said.

“It deprives them of their childhood, their potential and dignity and it is also harmful to their physical and mental development as it may lead to health complications not just because of the poor working environment children are usually exposed to but also because of undernourishment as their incomes are too low to support a balanced diet. Increased illiteracy levels of children caused by spending a lot of time in their workstations further condemns children to perpetual poverty.”

Posiana noted that there was need for the Ministry of General Education to allocate more resources to the education sector to improve literacy levels.

“Government should further look at establishing skill-based learning centers, vocational training centers and technical training institutions. This will help in improving literacy as well as skills levels and will contribute to the availability of skilled and trained workers in the job market. High national poverty levels at 54.4 per cent and continued high cost of living are contributing factors to rampant child labour in various economic sectors. Other government social programmes such as social protection must also be targeted at addressing the problem of child labour if significant impact has to be made. As a country we need a well-coordinated and multi stakeholder response by all stakeholders to the problem of child labor if the scourge is to be addressed,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Posiana attributed the reduction in the cost of the Basic Needs Basket for a family of five living in Lusaka in October to reduced costs in some food items due to the bumper harvest which the country recorded last year.

“The October 2017 JCTR Basic Needs Basket for a family of five living in Lusaka stood at K4,869.47 which is K14.1 less than the September BNB which was at K 4,883.57. The decrease in the BNB is attributed to reduced costs in some food items which include; mealie meal from K59.85 per 25 kg bag to K52.57 per 25kg bag, Fish from K132.56 per kg to K124.37 per kg, tomatoes from K9 per kg to K6.5 per kg and Charcoal from K147 per 90 kg bag to K140 per 90 kg bag. Price of other commodities like Kapenta increased from K184.78 per Kg to K192.75 per kg, onions from K6.57 per kg to K8.14 per kg,” stated JCTR/

“The continued decrease in mealie meal prices is attributed to the bumper harvest which was recorded this year. Prices for fish and tomatoes have also reduced because of the high supply in the market. Prices for kapenta continue rising because of the many costs involved before it reaches the market.”