Child labour remains widespread in Angola where many families struggling to make a living after a civil war still rely on their children for money, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
An estimated 30 per cent of Angolan children aged 5 to 14 years are working and 40 per cent do not attend school, according to a United Nations report published in 2001. Experts say that when it comes to Angola, the report still applies.
"Some children lost their parents to the war. Others became orphans of parents who are still alive because their parents rely on them for money," Ana Paula, Angola's deputy education minister, said at a conference.
"The government of Angola wants to end this now."
Luis Cevallos, who heads a U.S.-backed $4 million project aimed at ending child labour in Angola, said that although he has found no cases of child slavery, the practice of child labour is widespread in the southwestern African nation.
"We have found some extreme situations: children carrying weight above their capabilities, children working with chemicals and children who work under the sun for long hours. But we did not find children who worked without getting paid," he said.
NEW SCHOOLS, TEACHERS
Asked if the UN figures for 2001 on child labour still reflected Angola's reality, Cevallos said: "Although there may have been changes here and there, the U.N figures remain more or less the same today."
Angola's government has pledged to spend over one third of a $42 billion budget for 2009 to improve education and health. Hundreds of teachers are being hired and new schools built across the country.
"We want to make sure every child goes to school and that every parent has the means of education their children by providing free and compulsory education," Paula said, noting the government was building hundreds of schools across Angola.
Although the oil-rich nation has become one of the world's fastest growing economies after the civil war in 2002, much of its wealth has failed to trickle down to the population -- almost two thirds of Angolans live on less than $2 a day.
Angola has one of the worst child mortality rates in the world, with two in every five children dying before they reach the age of five.