National Seminar on “National Child Labour Elimination Policy and Next Steps” on 12th June at BIAM Auditorium

On 12 June, a national seminar titled “National Child labour Elimination Policy and Next Steps” was held at Bangladesh Institute of Administration and Management (BIAM) Foundation Auditorium in Dhaka.

The Honorable Minister, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment was present as Chief Guest at the seminar, while the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education were present as Special Guests. ILO Director a.i and Deputy Representative of UNICEF were present as Guest of Honor.

Approximately 120 participants from the relevant ministries, workers and employers’ organisations, donor agencies, national and international development organisations and media took part in the seminar.

The ILO Director a.i, in his welcome speech said “The Child labour phenomenon represents a significant aspect of the issues that could impede the Bangladesh’s development and growth. Child labour has therefore to be tackled not only as a social issue, but also as an issue of human resource development that can hinder the potential growth of children, adults and economy of the country”.

He also added, “Despite the remarkable achievements over the past decade by the Government of Bangladesh, there is much work left to be done. They include: establishment of an efficient and effective National Child Labour Welfare Council, finalization of list of hazardous occupations, development of a national time-bound plan of action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, establishment of a permanent child labour unit, etc. The World Day Against Child Labour and the National Child Labour Elimination Policy, 2010 will not lead us to its goal unless we are also committed to enforce and implement the Acts, Policies, Rules, and Regulations”.

The UNICEF Deputy Representative in his speech said “The Child Labour Elimination Policy appropriately complements the National Labour Act which was passed in 2006 and already prohibited hazardous forms of work for children. It is our hope that this policy framework will help address the issue of child labour in the country. The main challenge today is to implement the new policy effectively.

He also said “We may improve the protection system, but still fail in eliminating child labour if we do not also work on two other aspects: the prevailing poverty and the social norms. Intergenerational poverty is linked to the denial of opportunities for human development. Children with little or no education have little chances to secure a poverty free adulthood. They, in turn, are most likely unable to adequately provide the opportunities to develop their own children to reach their full potential. In this way, poverty is perpetuated within families from one generation to the next. Breaking this cycle is critical and should be part of the poverty reduction strategy. To do this, the Government needs to adopt chid-sensitive social protection schemes.” He also called for change to employers’ and parents’ mindsets towards child labour.

The Chief Guest in his speech said “Elimination of poverty and ensuring education for every child are essential to overcome the trend of involving children in hazardous work. Bringing every child under the education net should be the prime target for all of us”. He also mentioned that the government of Bangladesh is developing the Labour Policy to make it more appropriate in line with the international standard”.

On the National Child Labour Elimination Policy, the Honorable Minister said “This policy is well complemented by the recently adopted National Education Policy, which is extending free compulsory education up to grade eight”. He added “The government has taken some pragmatic steps to reduce the number of child labourers from both formal and informal sectors and the worst forms of child labour likely to be eliminated by the year 2016”.

The Chief Guest urged all participants to discuss possible steps to implement the objectives that are set out in the National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010 and forward it to him for further action.

The main focus of the discussion at the national seminar was around the steps that need to be taken in order to implement the recently adopted National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010 by the Government of Bangladesh. The participants stressed for the urgent need to work on: preparation of a concrete list of Worst Forms of Child Labour, undertaking a new child labour survey, developing a Plan of Action to implement the National Child Labour Elimination Policy, ratification of the ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age for Employment etc