Earning a Life: working children in Zimbabwe

Child labour has received much international attention in recent years, as a form of child abuse that needs urgently to be brought to an end. It is perceived to hinder the rightful development of children, and particularly their education. In Zimbabwe, formalised child labour is not common. Nevertheless, children in a variety of situations have to work for their livelihood. In many cases families, and the children themselves, depend partly on it. Often the schooling of the children depends on the income they earn.

Earning a Life has been developed out of a case study of children in informal trading enterprises, either helping their parents or operating on their own account: children working in small-scale agriculture on their family plots or the plots of others; children working for their schooling in formal plantations; children in small-scale mining enterprises; children in domestic service; children involved in caring for the sick and elderly. While all these tasks take time and energy, and sometimes detract from school-work, there are also benefits that are achieved. This is particularly so when children are the main bread-winners in the absence of able adults.

The important question we need to address is not the fact that children work, but rather the conditions under which they work. Stopping children from working for their livelihood is likely to do them more harm than good. We need to prevent not the work of the children, but the abuse of working children.

Earning a Life is a book that will help us to understand both the background and the context of this very important issue.

Earning a Life: working children in Zimbabwe
edited by Michael Bourdillon
Weaver Press

ISBN 0 7974 2162 9

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