New Public Management approach and management of child labour issues in Ghana. The case of Dambai in the Krachi east district

by Joshua-Luther Ndoye Upoalkpajor (Author) Ntassan Cletus Upoalkpajor (Author)

Scientific Essay 2017 22 Pages

Nursing / Foster Care Management / Social Services







3.1 Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
3.2 State of child labour in dambai
3.3 Applicability of NPM

4.1 Summary of Principal Findings
4.2 Recommendations
4.3 Policy recommendations
4.4 Managerial recommendations
4.5 Future research recommendations.
4.6 Conclusion


TOPIC: New Public Management approach and management of Child Labour issues in Ghana: the case of Dambai in the Krachi east district.


Child labour issues have been managed in Ghana over the years without success. Different approaches have been implemented over the years but the issues kept recurring. This study therefore sought to explore how New Public Management (NPM) approach could be used to manage child labour issues in Dambai. The primary purpose of this research was to examine current state of child labour issues in Dambai. The specific objectives were to investigate why some parents resist measures to eliminate child labour; to assess the applicability of the New Public Management Approach to solving issues of child labour in Dambai. The study adopted an exploratory research approach in the conduct of the study. This was done so that detail information could be collected for better insight and understanding of the issues involved in managing child labour. In all twenty-three (23) respondents were interviewed which comprises children found working during schooling hours, parents and officials of departments and organisation working on children issues in the study area. The study found that child labour was very prevalent in the study area. It was also found that some parents were ignorant about the laws governing children activities and therefore tend to resist measures put in place to tackle the issue. Adherence to some cultural practices reinforces their resistance as they believe that working children had a higher chance of success in life. One major finding of the study was that respondent believed that adopting the principles of the New Public Management (NPM) approach to dealing with child labour would be more effective than the current bureaucratic system of management. It is therefore recommended that institutions responsible for managing child labour issues adopt the NPM approach to dealing with the menace as the study has shown its effectiveness.It is also recommended that culture must be considered seriously when policies and programmes to deal with Child Labour are developed and implemented.

Key Words: Child Labour, New Public Management, Approach, Parents, Children, Ghana.


All over the world, child labour and trafficking in children have been a matter of grave concern to countries, especially developing countries where children work in the economic sectors including agriculture, mining and quarrying, commerce/trading, transportation, construction, and services. Children work in different varieties of work. These varieties of work include working in family enterprises, (either paid or unpaid). Others are self-employed or employed by others. In the agriculture sector, child labour and trafficking occurs in fisheries, aquaculture, livestock and forestry (ILO, 2010). ILO maintains that the international community has made determined efforts to respond to child labour by setting high global goals and standards. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) requires that children be protected from all exploitative and hazardous work and from work that interferes with their education and development. Quoting from the International labour conventions on child labour, such as the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), ILO further explains the boundaries for the types of work that are acceptable under international standards. The child’s right to life, development and growth in a favourable and pleasant atmosphere is supposed to be a basic right for children in each society in the contemporary world. The issue of this right of children has gotten its sign in numerous UN documents such as ‘The Geneva Declaration’ (1924), the ‘International Bill of Human Rights’ (1948), the ‘Declaration on the Rights of the Child’ (1959), and the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (1989) (Taher, 1997); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Articles 23 and 24) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR, Article 10). Regarding the rights of the child, UNICEF posited that “the idea that children have special needs has given way to the conviction that children have rights, the same full spectrum of rights as adults: civil and political, social, cultural and economic” (UNICEF, 1997: 9). The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as people below the age of 18 (Article 1) whose ‘best interest’ must be taken into account in all situations (Article 3).

Ghana has comparatively progressive children’s rights acts. For instance, the 1992 constitution frowns on forced labour and for that matter slavery (Section 17) while Section 28 gives children “the right to be sheltered from engaging in work that amounts a risk to their wellbeing, education or development”. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, all persons below the age of 18 years is classified as a child. The government of Ghana further strengthened the legal safeguard of children by introducing the Children’s Act (Act 560) in 1998. The Children’s Act prohibits exploitative child labour. Beyond these, the Parliament of Ghana passed Act 694; and Human Trafficking Act of 2005, among others which frowns on child trafficking.

In order to achieve the objective of protecting children, the Department of Social Welfare, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection have been set up as national institutions to actualize child rights. However, these institutions have not been effective in doing their work (Zdunnek, Dinkelaker, Kalla, Matthias Szrama & Wenz, 2008).

In recent years, children’s rights violation in the fishing industry has gripped the interest of the media, civil society organisations, government agencies and international bodies. Media reports and films depict as shameful the fact that a swollen figure of children are trafficked to work in the fishing communities along the Volta Lake. In view of this, this study sought to examine how NPM could be used to effectively manage the occurrence of child labour in Dambai which is located near the Volta Lake.

In Ghana, child labour permeates every socioeconomic endeavour. The Ghana Child labour Survey (Ghana Statistical Service, 2003) estimates that nearly 20 percent of children involved in work classified as child labour are of school-going age.

Ghana, over the years has been dealing with the menace of child labour and as a result, developed policies, acts, signed up to conventions and protocols and several NGOs are supporting government effort to combat child labour. Ghana being the first country in sub-Saharan African countries to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 had the vision of promoting and defending the rights of the Ghanaian child. The challenge of children however transcends policies and laws. There is growing evidence of government determination to eradicate child labour in all spheres of socio-economic endeavour.

In June 2010, the ILO and its global partners adopted a roadmap that can help in eliminating all forms of child labour by 2016. This was to put together a new drive in order to achieve the goal of eliminating child labour. The government of Ghana in the following year launched a comprehensive multi-sectorial National Plan of Action (NPA) with a similar commitment (Today Newspaper, on May 14th, 2015).

Ghana has also started a number of programmes and key policies to prevent liability of children in all its forms and child labour exploitation. Initiatives consist of the promulgation of the Children’s Act, 1998, the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme, and the Universal Children’s Law enacted from the Constitutional provision on Children’s Rights. The formation and improvement of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies including the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, Ministry of Children Gender and Social Protection, Ghana National Commission on Children (now Department of Children) and NGOs such as the Coalition of NGOs on the Child’s Rights, and Civil Society groups) have been part of these initiatives.

Despite these efforts, child labour is still pervasive in urban, fishing and cash crop areas where there is demand for cheap child labour. According to ILO (2004), although there are many global and regional declarations concerning human rights, and many non-governmental organisations dedicated to the enforcement and advocacy for children wellbeing and rights, child rights abuses are still reported in the media and research reports in the Sub Sahara Africa including Ghana. The fisheries sector is one of the sectors of the economy which continues to witness a lofty occurrence of child labour in Ghana. Studies have shown that many of the child labourers in the fishery industry come from coastal villages and towns and fishing communities along the Volta River (Brown, 2005).

Although many studies have been carried on children’s rights violation in the fishing industry (Afenyadu, 2008, FAO, 2010, ILO,2006 & Zdunnek, et al, 2008, Heady 2003; Tzannatos, 2003; Feigben, 2010), such studies have concentrated largely on causes and effects of child labour and concentrated at the national level (ILO,2007; IPEC,2008,NCLS. 2001).

Other studies have examined the policy frameworks and laws that promote welfare in the traditional bureaucratic management system. The traditional bureaucratic system is inflexible, rule-bound, moving at a snail pace and expensive, wasteful and insensitive to their users (Larbi, 1999). Conventional public choice approach tends to be centralised in nature providing a rewarding system in the public sector which does not promote effective performance. Consequently politicians and bureaucrats have no incentives to control costs (Chapman, 1979). This often leads to waste of resources and an in-built tendency for expenditure to grow and for delivery to take precedence over productivity.

In contrast, New Public Management (NPM) approach encourages fast-moving service delivery with organizations that would be kept lean by the pressures of competition and that would need to be user-responsive and outcome-oriented in order to survive (Larbi, 1999). NPM is characterised by marketisation, privatisation, managerialism, performance measurement and accountability. This employment of corporate attitudes in public administration is grounded on certain theories, mainly public choice, transaction cost analysis and principal–agent theory. With several failed and ineffective attempts to eradicate Worst forms of child labour, NPM present alternative toolkit for the combat of child labour in Ghana. Efficiency and effectiveness at less cost of operation is the hallmark of the NPM which is ideal to the management of child labour.

Such macro level studies tend to be less detailed and often generalised. While these studies are useful, it is very important to examine how child labour issues are managed on smaller scale to enable a clearer analysis to be made and similarities and differences to emerge. Such micro analysis also enables policy makers appreciate local dynamics for effective policy decision making. This research seeks to assess specifically the applicability of New Public Management approach as an alternative to conventional management of child labour issues in Dambai in the Krachi-East District.

Four areas investigated by the researchers are: (1) the current state of child labour situation in Dambai (2) the reasons why some parents resist measures to eliminate child labour in Dambai (3) How the New Public Management approach can be applied to manage child labour in Dambai. (4) The gains stakeholders stand to achieve from the management of child labour issues through the NPM approach?


The study adopted an exploratory research approach in the conduct of the study. Exploratory research is conducted to provide a better understanding and an insight to a situation under study (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). In this case, exploratory research design was adopted to elicit information on the management of child labour issues in Krachi East district focusing on Dambai Township with emphasis on NPM. An exploratory approach is most appropriate for this research because it provides flexibility and allows for a comprehensive assessment of perception of people (Choma, 2009). It also gives the researcher the opportunity to explore in detail the issues that lead to child labour. This approach is also beneficial because the researcher is not interested in generalizing the findings of the study. Through this approach the values and beliefs of participants are explored interactively allowing them to give explanations to some of the intricacies of child labour issues in Dambai Township (Creswell, 2003). Also the exploratory approach allowed the researcher to establish linkages between existing policies to protect the interest of children and the practical management of those policies to preserve the interest of children for a better human resource capital.

The study population comprised children 8 to 18 years of age who engage in any form of work during school hours. Staffs of governmental departments that work to improve the wellbeing of children in the district, opinion leaders and some selected parents and heads of NGOs were also included in the study.

The sample size for the study was 23 participants. The participants included 12 children engaged in child labour (6 in school and 6 out of school), the District Chief Executive, the Social Welfare Officer, the District Gender Desk Officer, two assembly members, a chief, the Manager of World Vision in Dambai, two teachers as well as two parents. The researcher chose this sample size because; it helped in obtaining comprehensive data which aided in the understanding of the management of child labour in Dambai. The sample size also though not representative, cuts across all stakeholders that matter in this study. The small size of the sample is due to the fact that qualitative studies are not focused on the number of people involved in the study but the in-depth nature of the information gathered and hence the small nature of the sample (Ritchie, 2003). Again, the researcher is not interested in generalizing the findings as done in quantitative studies. See table 1 below for details of respondents.

Table1: Table showing the categories of respondents

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Field work, 2016

Purposive and convenience sampling techniques were used in selecting the research participants. The purposive sampling technique was used in selecting key informants such as the District Chief Executive, the Social Welfare Officer, the District Gender Desk Officer, an assembly person, a chief, the Manager of World Vision in Dambai, and a teacher. These informants were purposively selected because they occupy privileged positions hence they have privileged information on NPM and child labour issues. Though purposive sampling can be criticized as being biased, it is very important to use it because of the researcher’s perceived knowledge of stakeholders who are directly caught up in the management of child labour issues in Dambai.

The convenience sampling technique was used to select children who were working during school hours in Dambai Township. These children involved both in-school children and out-of-school children who were involved in works that prevented them from being in school.

According to Alhassan (2012), convenience sampling is not structured but used due to availability of participants and their willingness to participate at the time of the interview. Though convenience sampling is biased and not scientific, its usage is premised on the judgment, biases and convenience of the researcher which at that point in time is the best option to obtain the needed information (Panneerselvam, 2004).

Two sources of data were collected for this study. The secondary sources included books, periodicals, and journal articles among others. The primary source comprised of data collected directly from respondents. The researcher collected qualitative data basically by the use of a list of open ended questions that served as a tool to conduct in-depth interviews with the selected children, opinion leaders, parents and NGO staffs. The researcher employed the in-depth interview technique and observation to collect the data.

Two sets of in-depth interview guides were developed; one for stakeholders and one for children. These were conducted with people deemed knowledgeable about the study problem. Twenty three (23) key informants in all were interviewed through in-depth interviews. They included a chief, two assembly persons, the DCE, the district social welfare officer, the gender desk officer, two (2) teachers, manager of world vision Dambai and two (2) parents and twelve (12) working children. An interview guide was developed and used to collect information from this group of participants. Even though the interview guide was designed in English language, it was translated into the local language of those respondents who did not have an appreciable command over the English language. Questions sought information on causes of child labour, conditions of work, policy and how new public management could help improve the fight against child labour. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed.

Analysis of data started from the field as the researcher took note of emerging trends of responses and recorded versions were transcribed and analysed through categorization and content analysis.

Raw data which were in the form of audio recordings and field note book had gone through a series of processes before the final findings were generated. Data which were recorded both manually and by use of electronic recorders was transcribed and typed. The typed data was edited and proof-read. This was done by the researcher to become familiar with the data. From the transcribed data, key themes were identified through reading and re-reading. The themes were in line with the objectives and were discussed with reference to reviewed literature.



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Title: New Public Management approach and management of child labour issues in Ghana. The case of Dambai in the Krachi east district