Child labor grows in Jordan amid COVID-19 pandemic

Ahmad Taleb, a 15-year-old in Jordan who usually works during the summer break to help support his family, had to begin working even before the end of the school term this year because of the suspension of in-class education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Before the COVID-19, I used to take a summer job to support my family, but now the aggravated situation forces me to work longer for more money,” Taleb, who works at a printing press in the capital Amman, told Xinhua.

In March 2020, Jordan suspended in-class education following a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths as a precautionary measure to protect students. The decision, although welcomed by experts as necessary, resulted in growing child labor in Jordan.

Ahmad Awad, head of Jordan’s Labor Watch, said the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the child labor situation across the country, with more cases of child labor expected to be reported as long as in-class education is suspended.

On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, Awad highlighted the need for the return of students in all grades during the upcoming school year with the improvement of the epidemiological situation.

There are about 77,000 working children in Jordan, according to figures by the Higher Population Council.

Tanya Chapuisat, representative of the UNICEF in Jordan, called for renewed collective commitment to ending more critical forms of child labor in Jordan.

“UNICEF Jordan remains committed to working with the government of Jordan and partners to eliminate child labor by embedding area-based interventions in broader social protection, education, justice, and labor market policies and programs,” she said in a statement.

Acknowledging the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in extending the child labor phenomenon in Jordan, Chapuisat said UNICEF and other partners would jointly implement the “Work: No Child’s Business” program.