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This essay will focus on development in Senegal and the societal problems that are holding the nation back from certain aspects of their development. Issues, such as child labor, are prevalent in the large cities of Senegal. I know this because I have had the opportunity to visit Dakar while on my sailing boarding school. We spent about two weeks in the city and partnered with the university kids and a development group called SYTO Senegal. SYTO stands for Student & Youth Travel Organization. It is a non-profit organization that is now used in many African countries to raise awareness and aid in development. Some of the programs and initiatives that SYTO offers are: Volunteering, non-paid internships, cultural immersion and home stays. All these different initiatives are meant to integrate visitors and locals into learning from each other. The purpose of our stay in Dakar was to spread awareness about different aspects concerning the development of their city. We split into various groups all with different tasks and responsibilities for the two weeks. The groups dealt with environmental issues, health and sanitation, water conservation, finance and journalism. Within our groups, we discussed ideas, had guest expert speakers and visited some of the schools in the area. One of our primary goals was to educate the young generation about these pressing issues so that they could develop a passion for improving their native land. We thought up creative ideas like skits and games in order to illustrate these issues in a way young kids could understand. For example, the water conservation group created posters that displayed the water cycle and put on a play for the kids. Aside from the development project, we also had many opportunities to explore the city and delve deeper into the cultural norms of the country. I saw everything from the bustling markets to women selling their hand-made rugs and blankets on the side of the streets. Despite enjoying their traditions, there is a more emotional and saddening side of the lifestyle and we saw this in the many child beggars and poverty stricken people in the city. UNICEF defines child labor as work that exploits children under dangerous working conditions. When children are faced with these problems it often takes away from sustaining their education. This relates to development because education is one of the factors that stimulate development. I will also discuss more aspects of Dakar's development, like: the change of urbanization and education rates, I will discuss how all these development factors have to do with the child labor issue in Senegal. The importance of our development project in Senegal was to expose the problems in the country that are keeping them from progressing. My definition of development is progression and advancing the current state of affairs. Development also refers to the economic, cultural and social changes that a nation goes through to become more advanced in modern day. I witnessed the extent of exploitative child labor in Senegal, which gives me the passion to want to find out more and do anything I can to help. I think that this is relevant to Global Development Studies because it is an issue of social development that needs to be addressed. It is also a human rights issue that I believe should be an international concern. In this essay I will argue that the child labor issues are stalling development, taking away from enriching the education of the young generation and resulting in long-term detrimental consequences for the nation.
The Development Theory, as learned in the first semester of Global Development Studies, encompasses many sub-theories that all aim to describe how change in a society can be achieved. Modernization theory describes a stratification of development stages and how to track a nations progress based on what they have achieved. Dependency Theory describes how "periphery" nations depend on "core" nations for guidance and support through their development journey. These theories relate to the issues of child labor in Senegal because it is an international concern and is responsible for much poverty in developing countries. Non-profit organizations, such as UNICEF, aim to raise awareness and money to support the eradication of exploited children. They also give hope to children in developing countries that are not able to further their education because their surroundings do not allow them to do so.
Bonnet (1993) writes about child labor in relation to the failure of the education system in many African countries. The article suggests that the lack of a structured education system and the amount of child workers are directly correlated. This could be because the school system cannot support the education needs so children are often forced into exploitative work at early ages to compensate for the lack of education. According to Bonnet (1993), there are also many children that drop out of school early because of pressure to provide another source of income for their struggling families. The article coins the harsh "socio-economic environment" as something that contributes the increasing number of child workers. Although this article reviews the plight of Africa in general terms relating to child labor, it shows many issues concerning development are related. As in Modernization Theory, a nation cannot achieve the next level of development without over-coming initial stumbling blocks. Bonnet's (1993) article provided insight into how a nation can move "backwards" in the development process, and thus, create more issues to contend with. Some statistics form Bonnet's (1993) article showed the GDP in many of the African countries as being quite low. This is definitely a pressuring factor for most inhabitants of these countries, as they have to live under these conditions and feel the full effect of the lacking economy. Exploitative child labor is a way that some families generate more income. Developmentally, this is an international issue and it oversteps many moral boundaries that have been constructed by the developed world.
Forastieri (1992) suggests that there are socio-economic factors that create the increasing statistic of child labor occurring in the world today. Many problems associated with being in a developing country lend to the onset of child exploitation. Forestieri (1992) explains that many children living in these impoverished countries often have no other option to provide food for themselves and family. She talks about the relation between a country's economic development and the lack of education leading to many children being forced into child labor and other forms of child abuse. The article also talks about the certain conditions that are present in many developing countries and how it presents a hazard to youth. The majority of exploitative child work begins at a young age, which violates developmental stage in the child's life. Forastieri (1992) acknowledges that the solution to the problem is long-term. Problems of development, such as economy, health, safety and education have to be addressed first to give families an alternative to subjecting their children to exploitative work. The article coins child labor as "the product of poverty", which describes the link to development that is most important to understand the issue. The international world and the developed world has an obligation to bring these impoverished countries out of the extreme poverty that is leading to death, disease and exploitation.
For example, an article in The Vancouver Sun (2007) discusses child labor as a regular occurrence in West Africa. It discusses the cocoa farms in many West African countries and how we, in the developed world, are able to have our favorite chocolate at our disposal anytime we want. The article states that children under 14 years of age are forced to work on these cocoa plantations under arduous conditions. It mentions a statistic that three percent of the world's cocoa production is harvested under the worst forms of child labor. This should make the developed world think about how they may be indirectly promoting the use of young children as laborers in these West African countries. The article in The Vancouver Sun (2007) goes on to describe the worst forms of child labor. Some children are being sold to farmers and are often lured by false promises of hope once they do what they are told. It is a problem that this is occurring every day in our world. However, there are things that we can do to try and promote good working conditions and the importance of child education rather than abuse. From development perspective, there are many things that we can do to try and stimulate improved conditions. The article mentions " Fair Trade", which represents a product that has been grow under good and humane conditions. The developed world seldom thinks about the impact that going out to buy a candy bar can have. That candy bar could possible represent long hours that a young child has spent on the cocoa farms. It is our responsibility to make sure that we educate ourselves about how some of the products we consume are made.
Grootaert (1995) provides some statistics of child labor in some West African countries. He shows that 52 percent of children in Senegal are involved in child exploitative labor. The high percentage shows that the country has poor economic means and therefore people have to engage in these acts in order to make enough money to barely get by. Grootaert (1995) suggests ways in which the horrors of child labor can be lessened, making way for new opportunities of growth for developing countries as well as the international world. First and foremost, he suggests that legislation would be the number one counterpart to battle child abuse. Ways to stimulate economy and ways to empower the children and their families are other things that the article mentions that could help to eradicate child labor. It is an international concern how the strains and pressures that cause child abuse in developing countries ultimately lead to the lessening value of education and care for the environment.
The eradication of child abuse in the workforce is becoming a pressing issue and there are many organizations that are solely aimed at spreading awareness and raising money to help to combat the exploitation. Myrstad (1999) discusses the role of trade unions in fighting child labor. They have the perfect platform to engage people and to raise awareness about the horrors of child exploitation and to stress the importance of education as a necessity. On an international scale, the article mentions that trade unions have the capacity to mobilize the public. Myrstad (1999) mentions the main trade union strategy to fight child labor, which is collective bargaining. Trade unions can effectively use bargaining strategies to negotiate certain codes of conduct that employers must follow. Myrstad (1999) outlines the power trade unions have to mediate the happenings between some companies in the developing world and the developed world. They can negotiate fair trade and spread awareness about the importance of fair work regarding all aspects, but especially when it comes to children.
Another article (Anonymous, 2001) on West African cocoa production talks about the reason why some farmers feel that they have to enroll children in the slave labor. This is relevant to development because it helps one solve an issue if we know what may be causing the problem. The article says that West African farmers blame multinational companies for their low prices. So in order to garner a profit they must enlist cheap work by children. This is much like a cycle that will not end if the roots of poverty are not solved in these countries. The international community has the responsibility of laying down legislation via political leaders that can help to eradicate child slavery in the developing world. There are situations that cause the onset of child labor and things that are consequences. Many of these overlap because, as previously stated, it all becomes a cycle. Poor education system, lack of employment and rampant disease are things that all cause people to resort to cheap labor to make ends meet. The lack of education, which leads to a generation that cannot do, better than the last, is a major consequence of child labor. If our world is truly becoming a globalized world then we must all put the burden of this on our shoulders and help support the efforts made to reduce the problem.
An article in The Financial Times (1999) mentions that the International Labor Organization says that the elimination of all child labor is unrealistic. However, they say that it is more realistic to address the worst forms first- such as trafficking. They say that making education a priority and strengthening the education system is what will help. The article acknowledges that in some of these developing countries there is no other means of income coming into families, as the parents are too old or sick. This is what is so troubling because it is not fair to make these children pay for the fact that they were born into this environment.
Through the media, many of us know the situation in the Third World and are aware of how some people are suffering. Miller and Ross (1998/1999) talk about "Development Week" and how it engages students to what is happening in the world around them. As we have learned, education is the most important for knowledge and progression. By instilling these values in their students, these teachers believe that it will cause change. One of the ways that they involve students is to stress the importance of " a strong sense of partnership between the North and the South" (Miller and Ross, 1998,1999). This makes way for international volunteer activities and involvement. My trip to Senegal was one of those enlightening moments where we saw things we had never before. The trip caused us all to reflect on our own lives and what we have. Many people in the word do not have half of what a lot of people in The First World do. There is a lot that we can do to show our involvement and passion in many aspects of development. Volunteering, fundraising and child sponsorship are all ways that we can begin to turn a negative situation into something positive.
To conclude, exploitative child labor in the developing world creates many setbacks that stall development. Development is classified as moving forward economically and socially. Poor education is a main factor in the start of young child labor. The young generation is being stripped of the ability to get an education. Some implications of my findings on this topic are that poverty and socio-economic status is directly related the amount of children that are being exploited. Some of the positive implications are the things that trade unions and the international community can do to lessen the problem. The implications for development surrounding this topic is that an issue cannot be solved or completely eradicated till more fundamental issues are addressed. The international community should be concerned with exploitative child labor in Africa because it is a human rights issue.