Bangladesh needs to take measures to eliminate all forms of child labour within 2025 as per its commitment to attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), experts have said.
“Complete elimination of child labour by next six years is a challenging task for Bangladesh,” ILO’s country director Tuomo Poutiainen told a roundtable.
Prothom Alo in association with International Labour Organisation organised the roundtable at Karwan Bazar’s CA Bhaban in the capital on Tuesday.
Tuomo Poutiainen underscored the need for a coordinated work among civil society, government and development partners to this end.
Child labour experts said there should be policy so that no underage children freshly join work.
They also called for a social movement and safety net programme for rehabilitation of those engaged in child labours.
More than one speaker emphasised on strengthening effort to fight child labor to attain SDG 8.7 goal.
According to the goal, immediate and effective measures should be taken to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, and end child labour in all its forms by 2025.
Labour ministry’s additional secretary Sakiun Nahar Begum said it is not possible to stop child labour by force; rather there should be a social movement against it.
Motivating the parents of children can be a viable option to stop child labour, she added.
Labour ministry’s deputy secretary Ruhul Amin said the National Action Plan on child labour should be reviewed and implemented to fight child labor in Bangladesh.
He also underscored the need of child budget.
Bangladesh Employers Foundation’s (BEF) SDG coordinator Samiur Rahman Khan pointed out the failure of government primary schools to attract students.
“As a result, dropout rate is increasing among the children and they are subsequently joining labour force,” he added.
World Vision’s deputy director Sabira Nupur said bringing a huge number of children out of labour force is a difficult task. The families should be provided with alternative income source so that they do not go back to earlier works after being brought out of it.
Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) joint inspector general Mustafizur Rahman said providing the children with vocational training can be an effective way to rehabilitate them.
Save the Children’s director Abdulla Al Mamun said Bangladesh should ratify ILO convention 138 concerning minimum age for admission to employment.
Referring to a study of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), the organisation’s joint secretary general Jafrul Hasan said as many as 182 domestic workers were killed and 146 injured between 2014 to 2018.
“Against this backdrop, how can the domestic work be kept out of the purview of the labour law,” he raised question.
Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum’s director Abdus Sohid Mahmud said thousands of children are involved in risky informal sector jobs. No goals can be achieved by leaving them behind, he added.
Child labour monitoring committee’s co-chair Salma Ali, INCIDIN Bangladesh’s executive director KM Masud Ali, Actionaid Bangladesh’s Nishita Islam,
Manusher Jonno Foundation’s Rafeza Shaheen and ILO’s national project coordinator Suraiya Banu, among others, spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayyum.