The [Hypo]Critical Problem of Child Labor in Jordan

Every year the government seems to make some symbolic gesture to battle child labor in Jordan. It usually involves a ribbon cutting ceremony of a center that will be abandoned in a few months.

I was reading lately about one of those latest gestures: the “Social Support Centre” launched a pilot project in Sahab to combat child labor. It’s basically a center where kids are taught vocational trades and such, in order to keep them in school and not out in the working world.

The thing about child labor is that most families will send their kids out to earn money because they are in desperate need of it. In such circumstances, an education is understandably the lowest of priorities.

But as I was nearing the end of the article I noticed the following:

Meanwhile, the Greater Amman Municipality has donated JD45,000 to expand the centre for the Child Protection Initiative. The new extension will enhance the centre’s capacity to serve more children, and will include a multipurpose room for various educational and recreational activities.

I walk to work everyday and just down the hill from my home the Greater Amman Municipality is building yet another enormous traffic circle. And amongst the several towering Egyptian workers mixing cement and carrying stones is a boy who I would say is no older than 14 or 15 at the most.

For many of us this is not an uncommon sight; one young boy in the average construction site all across the city is a typical thing.

But this wasn’t just another construction site. This wasn’t some apartment building engineer trying to cut costs or an Egyptian bringing his son over illegally. This wasn’t regulatory boards turning a blind eye to the very situations they’re supposed to be regulating.

This was an actual government project. The Greater Amman Municipality, the same one that just donated a bunch of tax money to combat child labor, was allowing a child to work on one of its construction sites!

Which brings to mind Satires’ famous words: quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who will guard the guards themselves?


  • Nas,
    I think they give the project to contractors, so basically it is not them hiring..But in all it is all about finding a supervision mechanism..But again as you stated, if the family is poor what can they do, they need to eat, nas there are some people is salt that only eats 7’obez nashef o shay all day, and you tell me child abuse..Poverty is the cause of every problem; wait,if the situation stays as is you will not only see crime but also extremesim..O alla yostor..

  • whosane: hey, cool, thanks for the link man

    mohanned: i dont care if they outsource it to haliburton, construction sites should meet specific labor regulations concerning children, to say nothing of government sites

    to say nothing of worker safety

    to say nothing of poverty

    to say nothing of national aid

    to say nothing of mismanaged funds

  • Man, you worry about lots of stuff…

    Look, just apply to the National Department of HR so they would look for a job for you (after barely passing Tawjihi and University, were you spent most of your time in the “Saqawar” -Squares, wait your turn (about 10 years) then start cursing the country for not having much jobs, spend your 10 years doing nothing, and I mean NOTHING! Well you could always marry your cousin, have 10 kids ( while you keep cursing the country working at your cousin’s grocery shop stealing his money, send the kids to work) then after you finally get the governmental job , call Mohd Al Wakeel complaining that it’s too far, the salary isn’t good enough, and you’ve waited 10 years, if Mohd asks wither you’ve applied elsewhere during these 10 years, or if you had taken any courses,trainings to improve your chances, start mumbling some words and throw in “O benashed Jalalet Sayedna eysa3dna ” to get out of it…

    Ok, as a starter,get married…it’s spring-summer season!

  • Firas: I get your point (actually i got your point in the first sentence), but it’s a big generalization. moreover, the people you’re describing, who are granted many, have nothing to do with actual child labor. we are talking about 13 and 14 year olds here.

  • I don’t know what’s worse, child labor or child beggars. It’s horrible. They should be at school learning something useful, there are just too many of them to think that all of them have poor parents who really need to send their children “working” or begging. Doesn’t make sense to me>

  • You are absolutely right, most projects are too concerned about the fashionable name of the project rather than how to actually work towards ending such inequalities. Our main concern should be how do we attract these young people who are on the streets to get an education, but its much bigger than building a centre!!
    I met a 13 year old boy in Sahab who works in the scrap yard, he has 15 brothers and sisters of which 6 are married, his parents are both sick and unfit to work, and he has to support his 8 brothers and sisters… I spoke to him about education, about participating in a program, his reply was HOW? who will pay for my family and how will they eat?

Your Two Piasters: