Bangladesh has made significant achievement in reducing school dropout and child-marriage under 15 in the last few years.
A joint research study on child marriage, child labour and out-of-school children by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and UNICEF to realise children's rights and the country's development aspiration, observed that there are many gray areas which needs to be addressed.
These policy briefs, unveiled on Wednesday in the city, are part of an effort to produce a series of knowledge products on key issues affecting the wellbeing of children in the county and proposing social policies to address their root causes and consequences.
The author of the study, Dr Zulfiqar Ali, a senior research fellow of BIDS of the policy papers on child marriage, child labour and out-of-school children urged the development partners to invest in education, increase budget for social development, social protection to family poverty and the needs of children.
The event was attended by AHM Mustafa Kamal, Planning Minister, Meher Afroze Chumki, State Minister for Women and Children Affairs, Sara Cooke, chief of British aid agency DFID, Rasheda Chowdhury, Executive Director of CAMPE, Dr KAS Murshid Director General BIDS, Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative and Mohammad Abdul Wazed, DG BBS spoke on the occasion, while Kaniz Fatema ndc, Secretary, Statistics and Informatics Division chaired the session.
The author said that the progress for children in Bangladesh is often being delayed because of the interlink between out-of-school children, child marriage and child labour along with particular disparities pertaining to those areas, highlights a series of Policy Briefs.
The prevalence of child marriage continues to be very high with over half of women between the age of 20 and 24 marrying before their 18th birthday and one in five marrying before 15, according to UNICEF, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) in 2013.
Research and data indicate that child marriage in Bangladesh is on a downward trend. In 2004, according to the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS 2014), the rate of child marriage (under 18) was 68 per cent for the women of age 20 to 24 years, so we can see a decline of 16 percentage points over a decade.
This data shows that Bangladesh is on way to achieving its objective of ending child marriages and thus, it is the right moment to ensure a strong legal framework, appropriate policy implementation and increased social awareness and mobilisation.
Out-of-school children were found in almost all districts of the country, with the highest concentration in Bandarban, Sunamganj, Bhola, Netrokona and Cox's Bazar and the lowest in Jhalakati, Barguna, Pirojpur, Feni and Jessore districts.
In the study there are clear geographic disparities in access to primary education. On top of poverty, out-of-school children are associated with mothers' level of education and educational environment including inclusive education, the study finds.
Children engaged in labour in Bangladesh are mainly employed in agriculture, industry and service sectors.
Of the 1 million children aged between 10 and 14 years are engaged in labour, the services and agriculture sectors employed the highest number, about 407,000 (41 per cent) and 390,000 (39 per cent), respectively, the study says.
Industry employed about 202,000 (20 per cent), almost half of the service sector. In absolute numbers, male child labour is higher than that of the female child labour in all the three sectors.
It is worth noting that a 2009 estimate by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank found that five million children aged 5 - 17 years were engaged in child labour, including two million in hazardous labour, the policy paper stated.
"Bangladesh is transitioning into a middle-income country and will face a new and different set of challenges to development. We must ensure that we are able to maximize the benefits of all the investments that the country has made in improving the lives of children in their first decade," said UNICEF Bangladesh chief Edouard Beigbeder.