The child labour issue

Posted: জানুয়ারি 11, 2009 in Child Labour

Phase it out under a plan

THE picture carried by this newspaper on the front page of its yesterday’s issue spoke volumes about how our children are still being exploited. It showed under-aged children working in a balloon factory and handling hazardous chemicals. It defies all common sense that the young boys are made to work for more than nine hours a day and for less than Taka two hundred a week. For all we know, there are young boys working in lathe factories, ship breaking yards, chemical factories and the like. These young workers are made to work under the most hazardous and most deplorably unhygienic conditions risking their health.

Admittedly, such a practice is prevalent primarily in unorganised sectors of our economy, which neither feels any compulsion to stick to the code of employment nor any social compunction to treat the children well.

While we are happy to say that the country has been able to see the end of child labour in organised sectors including the garment factories, it has been mainly possible because of the strict conditionality imposed, and the international oversight exercised on the export-oriented industries. Regrettably, that is not the case with smaller industries that serve the home market, this despite the fact that there are very strict laws that govern labour employment in Bangladesh.

The ground reality being what it is, poor parents prefer seeing their children supplement their income to subjecting them to schooling. Even though many NGOs have come forward to arrange schooling for such kids, that does not meet the poor parents’ requirement at the end of the day. We feel that there is a need to create more facilities to impart vocational training so that these children can be trained up for jobs when they are grown up. And for this we feel that not only the government but also the large number of NGOs that are operating in Bangladesh must put their resources together to tackle this malady. The private sector can think of invoking their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to bankroll some grooming operations for children of low-income groups, many of whom, if given opportunity, are sure to display their talents in different fields.

 

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