Errors in birth certificates, thousands seek correction

Prothom Alo illustration

Tasnim Ibn Faiz (34) has a total of seven errors including wrong Bangla and English spellings of his name and his mother’s name and with wrong Bangla spelling of his father’s name, in his birth certificate.

His younger brother Raihan Ibn Faiz came to the office of Dhaka North City Corporation Zone 5 in the capital’s Karwan Bazar area with the application to rectify those errors on 4 October. He was informed that the corrections will be done within seven to eight working days.

Md Shawkat was found going from one room to another at the office of registrar general, birth and death registration located by the secretariat on 3 October.

At the time he told Prothom Alo, one of his expatriate relatives in Saudi Arabia needed his birth certificate to be corrected. He came to find out about that.

People are coming to the local and regional offices every day with various corrections and problems of the birth certificates.

Till last 4 October, more than 2.4 million (2.4 million 91 thousand 546) applications seeking correction of birth and death certificates details have been submitted.

They were submitted through the Union Parishad (UP), municipality and city corporation regional offices across the country as well as embassies (expatriates). More than 2.4 million and 87 thousand of those applications are for the correction of birth certificate information.

In this backdrop, the National Birth and Death Registration Day was celebrated across the country on Thursday (6 October).

Why so many errors

Md Shawkat’s expatriate relative in Saudi Arabia and his mother’s Bangla names are incomplete on the certificate. Although, his name is ‘Raju Uddin’, in Bangla there’s only written ‘Raju’.

Meanwhile, in place of his mother’s name only ‘Renuara’ is written instead of ‘Renuara Begum’. He did his birth registration in 2015, through Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh.

People involved with the registration admit there are more errors in Bangla spelling of the names. They said that online registration started in October of 2010, through Birth Registration Information System (BRIS) software.

At the same time, the handwritten applications from earlier were being documented online then. For the lack of skilled manpower errors occurred in the union parishads the most.

In fact, many union parishads and municipalities outsourced the task of documenting older birth registration data online against Tk 2 for each certificate.

Talking to concerned people it was learned that, registrars commit mistakes on purpose so that people come to them for correction. This creates an opportunity for them to make some extra money, unethically.

Meanwhile, many submit applications with the help others from the shops. At this point, if the given information is not read thoroughly before submission, there remains a risk of errors. Apart from this, mistakes happen from technical glitches as well.

There are such instances where the same 17-digit number has been given on the birth certificates of three or four people. In such cases, one person, chosen on priority basis is given the certificate while others’ certificates get cancelled. It takes a lot of hassle in correcting this error.

Last year this reporter spoke to Sakayetullah, a resident of South Rayerbag. He had said that his wife Anwara Begum shares the same birth certificate number with two others people. He was already running around for six months by then to rectify that. Whether he was able to resolve it later could not be confirmed.

While talking to Prothom Alo, registrar general Md Rashedul Islam said that, errors are being rectified after identifying them. The error rate now is less than before.

Union parishad offices have been told to fill registration forms with skilled manpower. Plus, they have been asked to increase surveillance in order to prevent irregularities and corruption, the registrar general added.

Still scope getting multiple birth certificates

Despite birth certificates being digitized, there is still scope of registering birth information multiple times. Many people are collecting several birth certificates as needed by slightly altering the personal information including name and date of birth.

Some are collecting birth certificates one after another in an attempt to get their children into the school of their choice. According to the birth and death registrar’s office, the number of such people is around 80 thousand to 1 million.

In between 2006 to September this year, about 211.1 million births have been registered. On the opposite, the number of deaths registered exceeds 2.5 million.

As per ‘Population and Housing Census 2022’, the current population of the country is more than 160 million (165 million 158 thousand 616).

About the reasons for the number of birth registration exceeding the total population by about 450 million, deputy registrar general Mirza Tariq Hikmat told Prothom Alo that many of the handwritten birth certificates have been uploaded online.

Many of the deceased, who had collected their birth certificates, have also been counted in the total number of birth registration. In addition, some people have multiple birth certificates, he said.