Poverty forcing Afghan children into hard labour

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Poverty in the country has forced many children in the capital to work instead of going to school.

They say they are concerned about not getting an education. Bilal, a fourteen-year-old breadwinner for his family of eight, says he sells water from morning to night on a cart and is upset that he is unable to attend school.

“Working makes me very angry because I miss school,” said Bilal, a child laborer. “I get angry when I see my brother not studying and working,” said Jalal, Bilal’s brother. Mujtaba, like hundreds of other children, works as a tire repairer on the capital’s roads, and is prevented from attending school.

“I’m the sole breadwinner of my family of seven, I dropped out of school in the fifth grade due to economic challenges,” said Mujtaba, a child laborer.

Several child laborers described the hardships they face at work. “I walk the streets all day, in the heat, and sell plastic,” said Aisha, a child laborer. “I’m really concerned about my future and what will happen to my future ,” said Shahram, a child laborer.

Officials at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs say that the ministry is striving to reduce the number of youngsters working.

“We have technical and vocational courses, we have a curriculum, and we provide regular education for children,” said Makhdoom Abdul Salam Saadat, deputy minister of labor and social affairs.

According to 2020 statistics from the National Statistics Office, more than 700,000 children in the country are engaged in hard labor.

Child laborers in Kunduz province said that if they are provided with educational opportunities, they can continue their education in addition to working.

The children work on roads, but say that they are forced to do hard work instead of learning in order to find a piece of bread for their families.

“We have to study, this is the time of our education, I work with my brother,” said Zamir, a child laborer.

“If I do not work here, there is no one to support our family. My father is too old to work. We ask for help and to continue our education,” said Najibullah, a child laborer.

“Every day we earn 10 to 20 Afs to buy a piece of bread for my family, we do not go to school, we ask the government to help us continue our education,” said Safiullah, a child laborer.

Meanwhile, local officials in Kunduz said that the process of collecting and helping these children has begun.

“We will take action in collecting and helping orphans who roam the streets and child laborers who are far away from education,” said Matiullah Rouhani, director of information and culture in Kunduz.

Although the presence of child laborers along the roads in the province is not new, the number of these children has increased in recent months.

Poverty is one of the reasons why these children are forced to work hard instead of being educated.—Tolonews

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