The National Labour Advisory Council last week said the National Child Labour Policy would be implemented in 2018.

Accordingly, the policy would establish a system to deal with eliminating child labour, coordinating with ministries and social partners, implementing programmes and incorporating the policy into development plans.

“The policy will help further improve the situation. We can be a role model. Elimination is not probable. The policy will state the areas which have to be addressed and directions in which to go in. Subsequent to the approval of the policy, an action plan would have to be prepared. The timeframe for the implementation will be about two years,” Senior Assistant Secretary of the Council, A. Wimalaweera said.

According to the child activity survey conducted in 2008 and 2009, there was a total of 117,000 child labourers in the country. The most recent survey of 2015, the official figures of which are yet to be released by the Department of Census and Statistics, reveals that there has been a drastic and significant decrease including in hazardous forms of child labour and worst forms of child labour. In 2010, Sri Lanka pledged to eliminate child labour at the Global Child Labour Conference held in The Hague.

Although there are a number of laws dealing with child labour, without addressing the root causes including socio-economic factors based on aspects such as policy, public awareness and prosecutions, the elimination of such is not probable. These dimensions were included in the district developmental plans, he said.

Child labour-free zones were implemented in the Ratnapura District in 2014. There is a child labour steering committee that has also been appointed.