Adoption of child labour policy urged
High level seminar makes recommendation on child labour and educationDhaka, 19 March 2009: Bangladesh needs to adopt a National Child Labour Policy as a matter of urgency and increase budget allocation for inclusive education, participants attending a high level seminar on “Child Labour and Education” recommended today. The Seminar held at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka was inaugurated by the State Minister of Labour and Employment, Begum Monnujan Sufian.
“If we want to achieve the goal of Education For All and reduce poverty, we need to increase the access of all children to the schools and to raise the income earning opportunities of the families of child labourers so that they can keep their children at school instead of sending them to work’’ said Begum Monnujan Sufian, State Minister of Labour and Employment in her speech.
The Director, ILO Bangladesh, Panudda Boonpala, UNESCO Representative, Malama Meleisea, and UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy, also spoke at the occasion.
As Bangladesh starts to feel the effect of the global recession, the slow down of the national economy is likely to increase the level of poverty and impact negatively on children. At present an estimated 7.4 million children are working in Bangladesh of which 1.3 million works in hazardous conditions. This number may increase as low income families would be compelled to send their children to work for additional income.
The lowest enrollment rate in primary schools is recorded in urban slums with only about half of the children attending school. The seminar highlighted the clear link between child labour and education as child labour impacts on enrollment, dropout and transition rates.
“If the Government is to ensure the right of all children to education inscribed the Constitution, it will require elimination of child labour. To address this issue, we need a comprehensive approach including reform of the education system and provision of social protection”, said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative at the seminar.
Highlighting the opportunities and challenges, the ILO Director, Panudda Boonpala said “Very significant and encouraging is the recent Government’s commitment to seriously consider ratification of ILO C. 138 on Minimum Age for Admission in Employment. That Convention unambiguously links the minimum age of work to the compulsory age of education and by doing so emphasizes the intrinsic correlation between child labour and education”
The participants recommended that Bangladesh ratifies the ILO Convention no.138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment. They urged the Government to develop a list of hazardous occupations and activities. They stressed the need for focusing on quality and inclusion as the schools must adapt to the needs of the most marginalized children. While the formal education system makes such adjustments, non-formal education programmes can serve as a bridge to bring marginalized children to the mainstream.
UNESCO is contributing towards elimination of child labour mainly in three ways-- through promotion of early childhood care and education as well as adult literacy, and ensuring quality education, commented Malama Meleisea, UNESCO Representative in Bangladesh.
The seminar followed a four-day training programme on Child Labour and Education attended by, among others, high level officials of the Ministry of Primary and Mass education, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Head of News, ATN Bangla spoke on the occasion. Representative of NGOs, UN agencies, international development organizations were also present at today’s seminar.
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