Bangladesh's success in eliminating child labour engaged in hazardous jobs is still quite low, though its achievement in reducing the overall number is significant, experts told a function in the city on Wednesday.
Quoting the Labour Force Survey 2003, they said more than 3.40 million (34 lakh) children were employed for jobs. Of them, more than 1.30 million were doing hazardous jobs.
In 2013 the number of child workers dropped by 50 per cent to 1.70 million (17 lakh). The number of children doing hazardous jobs fell to 1.28 million.
Bangladesh performed well in reducing the number of child labour compared to its South Asian neighbours in the past decade, but the scenario of children doing hazardous jobs must be improved, the speakers commented.
All the countries must eliminate hazardous child labour by 2025 and child labour in general by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which is relevant to children's welfare, development and empowerment.
Bangladesh was supposed to eliminate hazardous child labour by 2016.
Elimination of child labour is not only the task of the labour ministry. Rather coordination among 47 ministries and departments is required for accomplishing the task, the speakers observed.
They made the above observations at a consultation meeting with parliament members. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) organised the meeting on "Roadmap for SDGs to Eliminate Child Labour" at the Jatiya Sangsad.
Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Mia was present as the chief guest with BSAF chairperson Emranul Huq Chowdhury presiding.
Chief Coordinator of Manusher Jonno Foundation Abdullah Al Mamun presented the keynote paper.
Mamun said Bangladesh did better in reducing child labour compared to other SAARC members but the rate of reducing hazardous child labour was quite insignificant.
He said poverty was not the only reason for which children were engaged for jobs. Rather there were other causes including safe stay at home.
He suggested that the lawmakers can play a vital role in reducing child labour - they can analyse any new bill through the SDG lense, oversight the government's projects on child labour making the policymakers concerned accountable to them and evince their strong political commitment.
Emranul Huq Chowdhury said about half the population or 46 per cent are children. That means the country will get a productive labour force in the next 30 years.
The lawmakers should create a suitable environment for this big size of population; otherwise no development plan would be fruitful, he maintained.
He said despite significant achievement in reducing child labour over the last decade, the list of child labour doing hazardous jobs is still controversial as it has not included domestic workers in it.
There are 420 thousand (4.20 lakh) domestic child workers in the country, he said.
"We have estimated that if the government spends Tk 4.75 billion for the next two years for this number of domestic workers, there will not be any child domestic worker," he remarked.
Fazle Rabbi Miah said it is very difficult to get rid of the present number of domestic workers as people tend to hide information about them. "If the government does not know about them, how will it take steps?" he questioned.
Expressing his resentment, the deputy speaker said not a single ministry could claim honestly that they implement the child budget and use the allocated fund for the children's development and welfare.
He suggested that programmes like mid-day meal to keep the students in schools for a longer period and prevent dropouts be taken.