Workshop: Bhutan first needs to define child labour and have adequate data on its prevalence before an action plan is drawn to eliminate child labour in the country.

The only data on the status of child labour in Bhutan is that of the 2011 Labour Force Survey, which found that about 4,400 Bhutanese children between 13-17 years were found working outside their home.

Coinciding with the World Day against Child Labour, representatives from various agencies involved in child care and protection met yesterday in the capital to draw up a holistic, implementable and inclusive road map to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the country.

The participants worked on three thematic areas of poverty and social protection, social norms and attitude towards child labour, and education and vocational training for children under 18 years.

While the meeting didn’t come up with a concrete plan, participants raised the need to map the prevalence of school children involved in child labour.

“Only after a proper mapping will we be able to come up with the right intervention measures,” the planning officer from the education ministry, Rinchen Samdrup, said.

The labour officer with the department of labour, Kinley Dorji, said, the 4,400 child labourers were mostly working in informal sector, and it was difficult for the department to monitor because of lack of legal guidance.

He said the department of labour carried out a study to understand the scenario of child labour in 2013.  However, the study is still being analysed.

The survey is expected to have more details on child labour, such as the nature of job, background of the child, and reason for working, among others.

Kinley Dorji also said that, since last year, the labour ministry developed an online system where people could lodge complaints against child labour.  The online system, which is currently being modified, will be up by next month.

“Starting July, any Bhutanese can lodge a complaint online against child labour,” he said. “For now, creating awareness is important.”

By Nirmala Pokhrel