'A child’s right to play greatly influences their holistic development'
A knowledge sharing session tilted “Children’s Right to Play in Dhaka City” was held at the Daily Star Centre on Wednesday.
Child Rights Governance and Child Protection for Save the Children Director Laila Khondkar at the program said: “A child’s right to play greatly influences their holistic development.
The keynote speaker Professor Salma Akhter of the Department of Sociology at Dhaka University stated that most school playfields in Dhaka are being used for commercial purposes, thus further depriving children of their right to play.
She said: “Since children are not able to engage in physical activities, they are becoming more engrossed in the use of electronic devices for leisure.”
According to a research conducted by Professor Salma together with Save the Children, it was discovered that the key barriers to children’s playing rights are excess pressure of study, unavailability of open spaces and playgrounds, and a lack of security when playing outdoors.
Member secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and MD of VITTI Sthapati Brindo Architect Iqbal Habib said all open spaces must be protected no matter who owns it.
“I do not think there should be any walls surrounding these open spaces and playing fields, as everybody should be allowed in these places,” he added.
Reiterating Iqbal’s point, Dr Engr Tariq Bin Yousuf, project director at Dhaka North City Corporation also said: “Planned urban open spaces should not have any walls as these lands serve as emergency spaces in case of disasters and natural calamities.”
Dr Adil Mohammed Khan, general secretary of the Bangladesh Institute of Planners spoke out against the government leasing out playing fields to clubs without providing an alternative to the general public.
He added: “Bureaucrats working in city corporations are afraid to speak out against the government.”
The discussants also urged concerned bodies to implement all existing laws regarding the conservation of playgrounds, open spaces, and parks, particularly City Corporation laws, Detailed Area Plan (DAP), and RAJUK policies.
They also pointed out that playing fields often end up being managed and unofficially owned by sports clubs and that the government needs to stop such activities.
They also recommended authorities to open fields free from encroachment by commercial and other uses.
Ministry of Youth and Sports Directorate of Sports Director Dr Md Aminul Islam, representatives from Save the Children and other stakeholders were also present at the program.