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 centreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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?