ODHIKAR aims to protect child rights and will operate in three communities in Dhaka
A coordinated effort, involving the government, non-government and international organizations, are needed to eliminate hazardous child labour by 2021 in Bangladesh.
The observation came at the inauguration ceremony of a national project related to child rights protection – Options for Dignity of Human Beings by Influencing Key Actors to Reform (ODHIKAR) – at the Daily Star Centre in Dhaka on Wednesday.
ODHIKAR is a two-year pilot project of Educo Bangladesh, funded by Child Fund Korea, which will be implemented by the Eco Social Development Organization (ESDO) among three communities in Dhaka.
An estimated 1.28 million children are currently engaged in hazardous labour. Under this project, 300 working children, engaged in domestic labour and transportation, will receive primary education.
Speakers at the program said the root causes of the failure to protect child rights are still unidentified and projects launched to handle this issue remain unsuccessful.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Haque said there was a “lack of coordination among ministries” working on child labour.
“Bangladesh may not be able to achieve SDG with the current pace of improvement in eliminating child labour,” he said, adding that the government should establish a directorate for children and ratify ILO Convention C-138.
Other speakers noted that government initiatives are yet to bring about a positive outcome, partly because of the poor monitoring process.
They urged the government to launch long-term projects with proper implementation and guidelines, instead of cutting down hazardous child labour jobs without providing any alternatives.
Labour Ministry Additional Secretary Syed Ahmed said the punishment for violating the labour law is not strong enough to stop child labour.
“The government has developed a policy for domestic workers and we are hopeful that it will become a law at some point,” he added.