Child Labor and Child Well-Being: The Case of Children in Marine Fishing in Ghana

Educational Level



Children in School




Junior Secondary School (JSS)









Children out of school

Never been to school



Stopped school at primary



Stopped school at JSS






Source: Field survey (2006)


Fig. 10.1
Reasons why children engaged in fishing (Source: Field survey 2006)

For those who earned income, the least amount earned per month was 8.00 Ghanaian cedis (2.41 %), and the highest income per month was 70 Ghanaian cedis (2.41 %).

Fifty-six percent of those who had never been to school did not go to school because the parents could not pay their school fees, 31 % did not want to attend school, and 13 % were unable to say why they did not enroll in school. When the children were asked whether they would go to school if given the opportunity, 45 % said they would not go to school. Among those who would not go to school, 60 % wanted to remain on their jobs, and the others (40 %) feared they might not be able to catch up with the rest of the children in school.

Reasons given by those who dropped out of school were lack of finances to support their education (41 %), difficulty of studies (22 %), interference of school with work (15 %), and working full time and, therefore, being too tired after work to continue with school work (7 %). An appreciable proportion of children (4 %) who were all age 12 and above said they work to support themselves and family and, therefore, could not combine work with school.

Noticeably, half of the children studied were of school age but had never been to school or had dropped out of school. Surprisingly, a significant number of them would not go to school even though basic education in Ghana has been free and compulsory since 2001. Although only 26 % of children made the explicit connection between work and school attendance, the broader implication can be drawn. It can be concluded, therefore, that since most of the children worked in their household fishing enterprise to support their families and themselves, to stop work and go to school full time would mean household enterprises would not function, and, for that matter, families would lose livelihoods and income.

Reasons for Working in Marine Fishing

Most (69 %) of the children said they went into fishing to get money. A significant proportion (21 %) intimated they were helping with the family business.

Most (35 %) of the child workers earned 40.00 Ghanaian cedis or 30.00 Ghanaian cedis (16 %). Eighty-three percent of those who earned 40.00 Ghanaian cedis a month worked for their fathers. The majority of the children earned incomes less than the national minimum wage of 1.9 Ghanaian cedis a day (as of 2007), thus 57 Ghanaian cedis a month.

The main reason why children worked in marine fishing was to get money to supplement family income and to take care of their basic needs, including education. Most of the child workers’ parents were in the fishing industry, and children’s labor seems linked to this given their high involvement in the industry.

Who Employs the Children?

In finding out who the children work for, responses revealed that 39 % worked for their parents, while 34 % worked for employers they were not related to. Twenty-­two percent said they worked with their relatives, and these children were living with the relatives they worked with. Generally, the most common form of child labor in marine fishing is family labor as reported by 61 % of the respondents.

In explaining why children were engaged in fishing, the chief fisherman said, “There are specific tasks that are the preserve of children because they perform them better than adults did, the fishermen would prefer the children to perform those tasks than adults”.

Tasks Performed by Children in Fishing

The children were involved in virtually all the activities in marine fishing, except net casting as shown in Table 10.2.

Table 10.2
Tasks children performed in both lean and peak seasons



Percentage of responses

Percentage of cases

Lean season

Pull rope




Pull net




Collect water from canoe

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Feb 14, 2017 | Posted by in PEDIATRICS | Comments Off on Child Labor and Child Well-Being: The Case of Children in Marine Fishing in Ghana
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