Children’s Opinion Poll 2013 calls for proactive role from political aspirants and leaders to realise child rights
DHAKA, Saturday, 6 December 2013: Almost 62 per cent of children who took part in a recent Opinion Poll think that child rights are overlooked by political aspirants and leaders as children do not vote. In Bangladesh, more than 91 per cent children are aware of their rights.
Overall, 70 per cent of urban and rural children mentioned that the rights of rural and poor children are overlooked by political aspirants and leaders. According to these children, they feel that they are discriminated against by older children. The survey also reveals several dimensions of discrimination against children including: right to food, right to education, right to health, right to work and right to freedom of opinion. These discriminations are generally practiced at home by siblings, spouses, and parents.
The Children’s Opinion Poll 2013: Children’s Views and Expectations from Political Aspirants and Leaders in Bangladesh, was conducted by UNICEF under a joint project with the Ministry of Information with support from Save the Children, ActionAid, Plan International, World Vision, Child Rights Governance Assembly and the National Children’s Task Force.
“Children constitute 40 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh, but their voices are often never heard or are neglected,” says UNICEF Representative Pascal Villeneuve. “This Opinion Poll was conducted to bring the voices of children in the forefront and to encourage the inclusion of a ‘Children's Contract' or children's agenda in election manifestos. We believe that the findings of the Opinion Poll will promote the formulation and implementation of child sensitive policies in Bangladesh.”
The Opinion Poll was conducted for two months (July to August 2013) through self-administered questionnaires covering randomly selected sub-districts under seven divisions with a sample size of 4,200 children(equally divided into urban and rural areas, and boys and girls) who were selected following a random sampling method. A total of 333 children completed an online survey which was open for one month.
A large majority of urban and rural children said that they are not getting adequate healthcare services while 84 per cent of children opined that their families could not afford it. Children of geographically isolated areas, including tea gardens and hard-to-reach areas such as haor, coastal areas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts also referred to the unavailability and inaccessibility of healthcare facilities.
Children expect that political leaders and aspirants should ensure free healthcare services for all children. Other responses included providing male and female doctors for male and female children, arranging counseling services for children in health facilities, ensuring child-friendly behaviour by service providers, free medicine, and weekly medical visits to schools.
In respect to education, children expect that political aspirants and leaders should play a proactive role to ensure quality education, establish more schools in remote areas, develop school infrastructure, recruit better qualified teachers, stop corporal punishment, ensure stipend and free education for children.
On corporal punishment, 81 per cent of children opined that teacher’s accountability must be ensured to stop corporal punishment and 77 per cent of both urban and rural children said that enforcement of the law would be useful to stop corporal punishment in school.
As for ensuring entertainment for children, 83 per cent mentioned building playgrounds in communities, 73 per cent stated the need for cultural organizations in the community, followed by having parks, establishing sports facilities, building libraries, and zoos.
A large majority of children felt insecure during hartals (general strikes), as they cannot leave their house due to security reasons. Seventy one per cent of children complained that hartals disrupt their schooling.
Among the respondents, in response to the question of why they did not want to take part in politics, 84 per cent said that they do not like politics because they felt politics is associated with corruption and violence.
Notes for the Editor:
UNICEF Bangladesh and partners undertook this opinion poll to help make children's voice audible to political aspirants/leaders including parliament members, local government candidates (Union Parishad) as well as political parties.
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