POST TIME: 2 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Eradicate child labour

Eradicate child labour

Child labour in Bangladesh has been a subject of persistent debate. But there really should be no argument about it; children should be at school and other means need to be found to help families who depend on their earnings to get by. We simply cannot justify the fact that millions of children in the country are out of school. Families on the breadline are allowing children as young as five year olds to work and that is how more children are joining the labour force every day.

Child labour is an issue that is as old as it is endemic, and while there are laws banning the practice, they have proved difficult to fully enforce. The reason for this is simple: it is extreme poverty that leads the guardian of young children to put them to work for whatever pittance they are granted by their employers. And this is the reason the practice is so hard to stamp out.

There is an urgent need for a comprehensive survey of child labour in this country. There is also a need to eradicate the confusion that exists over child labour. Perhaps, speaking of the immediate, it is inevitable. But at the very least we can adopt measures to protect children in their workplace. A pragmatic first step towards eradicating child labour would be the establishment of registries under welfare bodies where the names of children employed in households are entered so that their welfare can be monitored on a frequent basis. In the long term, of course, the only thing that can end such exploitation of children is poverty alleviation and family planning. Schools should be set up for children in their workplace and a limit put on the hours of labour.

We need to ensure that the lives of so many children in our country are not destroyed. Too many children are denied opportunity because they must go out to work. There have also been findings that the poor state of public sector schools and the refusal of children to attend them results in parents sending them out to work in the hope that they will learn a trade. This cycle of evil needs to be addressed collectively and everything possible done to protect children, a large number of whom are employed in hazardous professions despite the fact that Bangladesh has signed international conventions against such practices.