A childhood for child labourers in Bangladesh
The UN Convention defines a child as anyone below the age of 18 years and spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere should have, including the right to protection from economic exploitation (Article 32) and the right to education (Article 28).
The Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 (Act XLII of 2006) also defines the "child" and the "adolescent" on the basis of age. As per section 2(8) of the Act, a person who has attained the age of 14 but below the age of 18 is considered to be an "adolescent" and as per section 2(63), a person not attaining the age of 14 is defined as a "child". Except that the definition of "child labour" or "child laborer" cannot be traced from any public or private document. Therefore the term "child" and "adolescent" as defined by the Labor Act 2006 (Act XLII of 2006) shall be referred to in all discussion of child labour. According to this definition, the labor provided by a child would be known as "child labor". In that case, it is not desirable to use the term "Child Laborer" to indicate any person in labor rather the term "child engaged in labour" (srome niojito shishu) or "working child" (sromojibi shishu) should be used in this regard.
Child labour is commonly found in two sectors in Bangladesh;
1. Formal Sector: namely factories and industries, commercial organizations, communication and transportation, ship breaking, etc.
2. Informal Sector: namely agriculture, livestock, fishery, household work, construction work, brick breaking, pulling of rickshaw/van, day labouring, chhinnomul shishu (street child) etc.
Education and Recreation
As education and recreation is fundamental right of children, the employer or owner must provide opportunity for a break of at least 30 minutes to one hour after the stipulated working hour, i.e. five hours;
Irrespective of the nature of work performed by a child, the employer or owner must ensure adequate educational and recreational facilities after the stipulated working hour
The employer or owner must ensure the participation of working children in all national and international festivities, in particular the Child Rights Week, National Children Day, International Children Day, International Labour Day (May Day) etc.
The aim of the project is to provide basic secondary education and vocational training course to 3,100 children engaged in hazardous or harmful labour by establishing and operating 31 Learning and Recreation Centres for a twelve month period. The centres will enable children to progress into formal school, and will provide links to other health, protection and vocational education services. The centres will be a central element of a three-year donor programme to reduce hazardous child labour in these districts. Support will comprise: furnishing, equipping, staffing and operating costs of the centres for one year, and educational support (such as uniforms and examination fees) for the poorest children.
Around 46% of Bangladesh’s population live on less than US$1 per day and out of 46% Bangladesh population 60% population are from project area of south west districts ( satkhira, khulna, jessore ), forcing 7.4 million children into hazardous labour in areas such as factories, jewellery making, fish processing, workshops and domestic service. Children as young as five are often forced to work for up to 13 hours per day, and often suffer verbal, physical and sexual abuse. As a result, 2.4 million children aged between 6 and 13 years old are out of school and start work and due to Bangladesh law giving liberty for children from the age of 14 to 18 as adolescence miss out on the education that would improve their life chances
This project aims to give children working in hazardous child labour a basic education and support, and to provide care and recreation space. Open six days per week, the centres will provide two hours of numeracy and literacy classes for working children per day, with the aim of enabling children to attend formal schools to complete their basic education. The centres will also provide organized and informal recreation sessions on a drop-in basis throughout the day, helping children enjoy essential elements of a childhood.
The centres will link to government birth registration services allowing these children to access healthcare and protection services currently closed to them. The centres will host Children’s Forums where working children can discuss the issues that prevent them accessing education. Through sharing their experiences and working with community protection networks (formed of teachers, community leaders, local NGOs, local media and employers associations), they will be empowered to improve both their own working conditions and those of 72,000 other working children in the three districts.
Your role in education
Coach, Counselor, Resource Officer, Social Worker.
About Your Organization
Bangladesh, KHU, Satkhira
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
References - Please provide two references with a two-sentence biography, email address, and phone number for each
Ms. Shahana Hayat
2/7 Block-C, Lalmatia
Tel: +88-02-811-1845, 911-8541
Vso work is our developmental partner and helps us with volunteer who develops the capacity of our staff and plan our programs.
Mr. Shahidul Islam
Director of Uttaran (National Ngo)
Uttaran is a partner NGO and have done many project in collaboration with uttaran from past 2 decades.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long have you been in operation?
Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
This project will provide direct educational support to 3,100 of the most vulnerable children in the target districts who are currently engaged in hazardous labour and missing out on a childhood. We will specifically target children in the poorest quintile, many of whom work informally and have no birth registration – making them hardest to reach and meaning that they miss out on government social programmes. The centres build on our previous experience in preventing child labour which has shown the need for a holistic package of support to link children to government services. By giving children access to these services we will reduce the need for them to be engaged in hazardous labour and ensure that they can access an education.
The centres will also be central to our broader goals of improving the lives of 72,000 working children and preventing 200,000 children living in poverty from becoming engaged in hazardous labour. Through hosting Children’s Forums and linking with community protection networks, children will participate in advocacy and work with community groups, local government and employers association to develop an employers’ code of conduct.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
The Learning and Recreation Centres have been designed to have minimal ongoing operating costs. Once this programme is completed, these continuing operating costs will be covered through local government funding and contributions by local CBOs and community leaders.
The project will be developed and delivered in accordance with WJCC’s community-based strategy. This involves working closely with local governmental structures and also with local CBOs and community groups. Roles and responsibilities of WJCC, local CBOs, community groups and local government will be clearly defined from the outset – both for the duration of project delivery and beyond. This will include training local CBOs to work with communities to continue this work beyond the funding period.
Through WJCC’s broader programme will enable them to support and extend the network of Learning and Recreation Centres. We envisage that over time responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the centres will move from the community and local CBOs to local government.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
In designing this project, WJCC identified a need for a more integrated approach to ensuring that working children get access to an education and other basic services. As a result, this overall programme – and the learning centres in particular – aims to empower communities and local authorities to address the barriers that prevent working children accessing these services. The Learning and Recreation Centres explicitly aim to enable children to access formal school, rather than duplicating the schooling system, and seek to bring together government provided health, protection and birth registration services.
The Learning and Recreation Centres are also integrated into our programme to bring together government and non-governmental actors to take action on child labour. They provide focal points for community engagement and mobilisation – which will enable community members and community groups to engage with government and employers to improve conditions for working children. This is strengthened by including children’s voices and experiences, and provides a model which can be replicated by national NGOs and community groups to ensure more integrated essential services for children engaged in hazardous labour.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Earlier there were no NGO’s who did this kind of project in the southwest region of Bangladesh, but there are many International NGO’s working in some of the area of southwest but as WJCC is working from past two decades we are not worried about the competition and instead of that we will get support from the other national NGO’s to carry out our activity as we will also involve them for any advice and recommendation.
This project will be delivered using staff local to the areas of implementation. Work in each of the three districts will be carried out in close partnership with the established local CBO’s. This will ensure that local knowledge increases programme effectiveness. Procurement of materials will be carried out locally wherever possible, reducing logistics costs.