World Day Against Child Labour
Children are not tools
Today, the World Day Against Child Labour is being celebrated worldwide. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been observing the day since 12 June 2002. In this 21st century a large number of tender-hearted children in the world have to work hard to survive or to support their families financially. As a result, they are suffering from various physical and mental problems.
Due to the pandemic, many people in the world are falling below the poverty line. As a result, they will not be able to meet the daily needs of children. Consequently, many children have to work for their livelihood. In our country, child labour is on the rise due to the coronavirus situation. Currently around 152 million children around the world are working as labourers. Of these, about 72 million children are involved in hazardous work. About 1.2 million children in Bangladesh are involved in various forms of labour.
Children cannot be tool or instrument, they the future of the nation. Children don't want begging bags, they want books and pens. They sell labour for various purposes but are deprived of real wages. Children are generally identified as people under the age of eighteen. He or she is an expected human resource of the future. He is supposed to grow up with all the basic rights and dignity he deserves.
Because of the socio-economic reality, many children in our society give up all the dreams in their childhood and adolescence. Child labour hinders the development of the child, deprives the child of childhood and deprives the child of the right to education.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as a form labour that deprives a child of all its opportunities and dignity. At the age when a child is supposed to come and go to school with books, notebooks, pencils and play games with his classmates with a happy heart, the child has to go down in search of livelihood. When poorly educated parents fail to support their families due to poverty, they lose the motivation to send their children to school and pay for their education. They think that if the child is engaged in work, it will help in reducing the income of the family.
The first and foremost cause of child labour in Bangladesh is poverty. Moreover, due to river erosion, floods, droughts, tidal surges, many children come to the city with their parents as uprooted people in search of work. Formal sectors such as industries, commercial establishments, communication and transportation systems etc are the destination of a child labour. Informal sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing/fish farming, housework, construction work, brick breaking, rickshaw-van driving, day wages etc are the destination of a hapless child.
The National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010 has also laid down conditions for employing children. It is a criminal offense to employ a child below the age of 18 in any kind of hazardous work. Like almost all countries in the world, child labour is prohibited in Bangladesh. But in reality, many employers are more interested in employing them. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens and outright forced labour is completely prohibited.
The goal of the National Child Labour Elimination is to make children's lives meaningful by withdrawing them from all forms of risky jobs. Education or skills enhancement training opportunities can be provided. Providing technical training to the children engaged in labour in the light of the prevailing law is important. In this way in the future they can build themselves as skilled human resources in a competitive job market.
The Children Act 1974 was introduced. Later, the National Child Policy-1994 was formulated. The role of Bangladesh in ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the adoption of the National Action Plan for Children 2005-2010, and the withdrawal of child labour from the readymade garment industry have brightened Bangladesh's image. Even then, it has not yet been possible to eliminate child labour and to completely remove children from risky jobs.
The government is committed to ensuring the basic rights of every child. It is expected that risky child labour will be eliminated from the country by 2021. And all types of child labour will be eliminated by 2025. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations have set a target of eliminating all forms of child labour from the country by 2025. This goal can be achieved through comprehensive ventures and proper budget allocations.
Bangladesh's overall socio-economic development strategy is a model for many third world countries. The child or teenager today will be the main driving force of this development strategy in the future. So there is a need to create widespread public awareness about child rights. Similarly, we have to be more focused on poverty alleviation. The dream of establishing a beautiful country will be successful if appropriate steps are taken by all together to develop children as good citizens. Moreover, the local administration, business community and conscious people need to increase their surveillance so that no child is employed in any workplace.
The author is editor and publisher, Daily Shastho tathya & health adviser of Central Committee of the Human Rights Review Society