Our expectations on World Children's Day
On this special occasion children from different parts of the country share their expectations
We all have equal rights in this country
Swapan Sarkar, Age 17, Kurigram
We want a Bangladesh where children of all ethnicities and religions can live in peace and security. We want a country where peaceful coexistence between all communities is possible. This country belongs to all of us.
We must remember that people from all faiths – Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christianity – fought for the liberation of the country in 1971 to free their motherland and to build a non-communal Bangladesh.
I urge that everyone remains alert that no vested quarter can destroy the non-communal harmony we fought for. We cannot forget that all our rights to this country are equal, as are all our responsibilities towards it. If we all live together in peace and harmony, we will be able to turn our beloved homeland into a Golden Bengal.
End harassment of women
Nusrat Islam Trisha, Age 15, Bagerhat
Sexual harassment is a daily problem for many girls in Bangladesh. Girls are affected by it while traveling on the roads. This insecurity is one reason why many girls drop out from schools or become victims of child marriage in our country. Many parents do not want to admit their girls to distant schools, colleges or universities for this reason.
Although there has been much progress for girls of Bangladesh, many are still being deprived of their rights in various ways due to sexual harassment.
I have never walked to school alone. My parents always accompanied me, only to ensure my safety. Is it only the parents of us girls who are responsible for stopping sexual harassment? Certainly not. It is the collective responsibility of all.
Those who harass girls are also children of one family or the other. Wouldn’t sexual harassment end completely if parents of boys were as cautious about their sons harassing girls as parents of girls are about their daughters getting harassed?
We want meaningful support for street children
Jahangir Alam, Age 17, Lalmonirhat
Like many students in the country, I am elated to be back in school. But millions of children live in the streets of Bangladesh who are deprived of their right to education, nutritious food, shelter, social security and health. They are forced to choose the life of a street child.
At an age when children are supposed to go to school holding their parents’ hand, some sell flowers on the roads, some work as peddlers, some beg for a living. Residing in polluted and unhealthy urban environments, they are constantly exposed to physical and mental harm. They have no hopes, no dreams. Some are forced into various crimes. Girls living in the streets are victims of various forms of sexual harassment and abuse.
Today's children are tomorrow’s future. The future development of the nation is not possible if we exclude such a large number of children. We must build a promising and skilled future generation through ensuring that the basic needs of these street children are met, the causes of their deprivations are addressed and their proper rehabilitation is ensured. We also have no hope of a better future if we do not make sure they have the same rights and opportunities as the rest of us.
Parents, have faith in us, encourage us
Afrida Jahin, Age 13, Rangpur
Crossing childhood, we have now entered our adolescence. As we grow up, our social spheres are also broadening. We are learning to dream. We want our parents to support us an encourage us to fulfil those dreams.
We all have aspirations, but not all of us are able to fulfil them. One of the main reasons for this is lack of family support. Girls are more likely to face this than boys. Girls need to overcome obstacles in everything they do. Many girls want to grow up to be journalists, some want to be doctors, engineers or lawyers, some want to join the armed forces.
Girls have high hopes and big dreams that are cut short just because we are girls. This difficult path can be made smoother if our parents give us their full support.
Many of us are forced to disown our own dreams due to parental pressure. In the process of pleasing our parents and chasing what they view as success, we stumble. But many parents do not understand this. They do not value the opinions or wishes of their children. Often our parents decide our profession. They forget that each child has hidden or latent talents, which might not flourish due to lack of exposure. As such many children do not get the opportunity to transform themselves into assets of the state.
I’m urging parents – encourage us. Help us become the trailblazers who will transform our country. We cannot do it without you.
Ensure special measures for school dropouts
Arifin Moon, Age 14, Sirajganj
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many children to work and support their families. Child labour has increased due to the closure of educational institutions. Many more girls have become victims of child marriage due to poverty and insecurity.
Our country has had great success in reducing school dropouts in the past. Therefore, we hope that all possible measures will be taken to bring back children to school who have dropped out due to the pandemic as soon as possible.
At the same time, the pandemic has taken a great toll on the mental health of children and adolescents. We demand schools act now so that all the children who dropped out due to the pandemic can return and those suffering from mental health get the support they need.
We want quality education to prepare us for the future
Tasnuva Mehzabin, Age 14, Khulna
Our education system has never been perfect, and it became a bigger mess because of the pandemic.
In addition to special steps for the students whose learning has been affected most due to the pandemic, we want quality education that will help us acquire necessary skills for the current century. Quality and employment-oriented education can free us from the vicious cycle of poverty. That is why we must do whatever it takes to improve the quality of education without any delay. Education lacking in quality will only hinder our progress.
We want the new system that will start from 2023 to give importance to learning over getting a degree.
Environment-friendly education and life skills need of the hour
Asaduzzaman Akash, Age 16, Thakurgaon
Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries affected by climate disasters in the last two decades. During this time, 112 million people of Bangladesh have been victims of disasters. These figures from a joint report of the CRED and the UN agency UNDRR really shook me. I realized that if we do not address climate change now, it could become even more deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Floods, cyclones, tidal surges, tornadoes, river erosion, droughts, and hurricanes afflict us all. Drought and floods have also increased recently in North Bengal, where I live. Of course, nature will strike back when we destroy its forests, its wildlife, its rivers.
We want to overcome these disasters. Bangladesh is not responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. But unless urgent steps are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, children in countries like Bangladesh will suffer the most. Everyone needs to be aware of these issues. Every single child needs to be taught how to cope with climate change and live in harmony with the environment.