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Republic of Sierra Leone
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Child hawking, a contributor to school dropout

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Though this practice is common among children throughout the year, but it gains prominence during holidays, especially during third term of the academic calendar, wherein pupils are expected to enroll for extra lessons/summer schools in order to prepare their minds for the next academic year.

 Conventionally, a child is described as someone below the age of 18 years and a person under this age bracket is expected to be a dependant rather than a bread winner.

But the complete opposite is happening in many households in Makeni and children do sell varied goods as the aforementioned to upkeep homes, a situation described by many as a mismatched or misplacement of responsibility.

To ascertain how child peddling is affecting the cognitive and general performance of children in school, this medium contacted a teacher with twenty experiences in the teaching field.

 Madam Fatmata Koroma of the Alhadi Islamic Primary School in Makeni confirmed that children who are normally engaged in street trading with hectic domestic work are always lazy in class and they normally sleep whilst lessons are ongoing. Assignments given to such pupils are not done on time and their participation in class work is not satisfactory and most disgustingly, they always go to school very late and in the midst of all these, she added, such pupils’ annual academic output becomes very unsatisfactory.

 She however, highlighted the challenges ahead of them as street traders, and most of girls engaged in street trading were exposed sexual harassment and sexual penetration.

Madam Fatmata Koroma noted that girl were sometimes bullied by men especially when they refused to heed to their demands for  sex, gambling and other anti  social activities  like,  thieving, pick pocketing, smoking narcotic drug , drug addiction during their long stay in the streets.

Detailed interviews with these kids revealed that a huge percentage of them involving in street peddling activity are living with foster parents or guardians rather than their biological parents who compelled them to street hawking.

Most reported rape cases and child trafficking over the years especially in major towns and cities in the country were closely linked with child hawking.

 Isatu Kamara a human rights activist stated that child peddling in its entirety normally leads to school dropout, including gambling; pick pocketing, drug abuse among others societal ills.

She continued that a huge percentage of school dropouts among children in major cities and towns across Sierra Leone were as a result of street trading. 

Few years back, Makeni City Council and the Ministry of Social Welfare gender and childrens affairs jointly designed bylaws frowning at child hawking in the municipality during school hours, but such promulgation was just a white elephant.

Many residents of Makeni hold the view that Sierra Leone is always good at designing policies or making policy statements, but that to ensure the successful implementation of those policies is another thing.

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