Project to eliminate risky child labour makes 1.3% progress in 3 years13 June 2021
Bangladesh must keep the fight against child labour at the top of the agenda as the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide -- an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years -- with millions more at risk due to the impacts of Covid-19, according to a report of the ILO and UNICEF, released ahead of World Day Against Child today (June 12).
The two UN bodies will continue to work closely with all our partners and focus on compulsory education, skills development, and social protection programmes -- not only to address child labourers and vulnerable children, but also to provide decent working opportunities for their parents and older siblings.
As part of the programme, Bangladesh had taken a Tk 284 crore project more than three years ago with the aim of eliminating hazardous child labour by 2020. But the project has seen hardly any progress. It progressed only 1.33 percent till the end of last December, the original deadline. The deadline of the project, being implemented by the Labour and Employment Ministry has now been extended to December 2021, according to an Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division report.
Experts and child rights activists say the project could have made a tremendous contribution to get children out of hazardous child labour at a time when children's involvement in such risky work increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent survey of Manusher Jonno Foundation said some 7,800 out of 30,313 child labourers who were involved in risky jobs have switched to "riskier jobs" in eight districts between July and September 2020. Another rights group, Ain O Salish Kendra said the project's target is unlikely to be achieved, as everything is unclear till now. The rights groups blamed bureaucratic tangles for the sluggish progress of the project, which aimed at getting one-lakh children out of hazardous labour. However, project officials blamed the pandemic for the delay, although the first cases of coronavirus were reported on March 8 last year, more than two years after the project was initiated in January 2018.
The Constitution of Bangladesh and the Children's Act 1974 guarantees fundamental rights and ensures affirmative action for children. We want to say the government must come forward to increase the job opportunities of parents so they stop sending their children to risky work.