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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Child labour, child education and poverty: a study of children on the street in Nigeria

Ihejieto, Chinyere (2020) Child labour, child education and poverty: a study of children on the street in Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Child labour remains a global health concern and an issue that significantly burdens developing countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Considering its effect on children’s education, development, health and wellbeing, international organisations have called for the early elimination of the practice for the betterment of society. In the poorest countries in the world around one in four children is engaged in child labour. There are many aspects to child labour which are important, for example, child prostitution, child trafficking and use of children in armed conflict among others. It is not feasible to take on board every aspect of child labour at the same time without the tendency of failure to produce meaningful analysis. In order to make analysis essential and vital in addressing the child labour practice, this study chose hazardous child labour relating to ‘street working children'- more specifically children on the street. This is the most predominant and visible form of child labour in Nigeria. Due to the lack of a well-defined child labour criteria and up-to-date national statistics, child labour practice in the country remains unclear as international statistics of the phenomenon in the region continues to peak despite the recorded decrease in other regions of the world. This study thus aimed to explore the experiences of Nigerian children and their parents/guardians who work on the streets of Benin City in order to provide an in-depth understanding of the reasons why they work and how working subsequently affects them.
Qualitative grounded theory approach was adopted for this study. This approach involved systematic and simultaneous data collection and data analysis process. It also eased and underpinned the use of more than one method of data collection. Data were collected from children on the street and their respective parent/guardian- to provide a holistic family insight on child street work. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with adults and nine children were involved in this study through storytelling.
Children on the street and their families do not consider themselves child labourers. Street working children are a highly heterogeneous group- and among them is a category of children called children on the street. Rather than poverty, family and other regional and global dynamics are significant factors for why children work on the street, as well as the subsequent impact on the children. Identifying the role of distinctive features of child labour is not only crucial in understanding the reasons, but also the impact of working on the child, and the incidence of child labour is greatly influenced by families, the government and the general representation of the practice. It is problematic when researchers continuously present child labour arguments to either support or oppose the notion that children work for money. Each side of the argument does not sufficiently recognise the different narratives of these working families, and lives of children in different contexts, especially of those that work on the street. With recognition and understanding, each side of the argument could be valid and right depending on the family's situation. Furthermore, it helps reconcile the differences in opinions which over time have generated several arguments in child labour discourse. There may not be a wrong on right answer to the justification of certain aspects of child labour, rather an understanding of child work within different contexts - this approach provides consideration for work principles, desires of working children and highlights heterogeneity of child labour debate and analyses.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Children who work on the street are a distinct subset of child labourers that, like other children, attend school and receive support from their parents/guardians. This study's findings on child labour challenge the popular abolitionist approach, which supports the ban of all work children conduct. The abolitionist approach does not only ignore the circumstance/context of street work and appreciate family's effort to support the child, a ban on their activities may also further marginalise them or deny them the opportunity for better futures. In extreme cases, it may force them into unconditional worst forms of child labour. In viewing child labour as a coping strategy, interventions aimed at child labour should not only focus on eradicating the practice rather see the need to refine it in terms of redefining the meaning of child labour, promoting and protecting the child's overall health and wellbeing. Also, involving children in research on issues affecting them is a contemporary way of thinking in research, and is likely to be the future of social research. Therefore, there is a need for a contextual definition of child labour beyond ILO Conventions 182 and 138; and in this case, one that recognises children's opinions and context-specific nature of work.


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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 12066

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Date Deposited: 22 May 2020 15:25
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2021 03:38


Author: Chinyere Ihejieto

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