April 18, 2017

Tunisia launches project to stop child labour and keep rural girls in school

Tunisian girls whose families live on land they cultivate next to a river in Hammam Mellegue district

Arne Hoel / World Bank

About 100,000 under-16s leave school early in the North African country - mostly to work on family-run farms or do domestic labour.

Tunisia's social affairs minister said yesterday new policies were needed to keep children in school until the age of 16 as the country seeks to curb child labour.

The North African nation needs to "establish adequate policies... to guarantee that children go to school until they are at least 16 years old, under Tunisian law," Mohamed Trabelsi said.

"We have 100,000 children who leave school early for one reason or another, especially in the rural regions. It mainly affects girls," he said.

The minister spoke at the launch of a project to fight child labour in Tunisia over the next three years, which was developed with the International Labour Organization and has received $3 million in funding from the United States.

Naima Zaghdoudi, national coordinator for the project, said child labour in Tunisia seemed to be most common in "agriculture, mainly in family-run farms", in domestic work for young girls, small carpentry workshops, garages and hairdressers.

But "we can't talk about a child labour phenomenon today in Tunisia because there isn't really any data", she said.

In an attempt to remedy this, she said the National Statistics Institute would survey 15,000 homes to obtain statistics on child labour that should be known in September.

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