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Child labourers get vocational education in Bangladesh

May 08, 2013

Child labourers in the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh have been provided vocational education under the Underprivileged Privileged Children Education Programme (UCEP).

With the good intension of protecting child labourers from risky and hazardous jobs many working children are getting technical and vocational education under the Underprivileged Privileged Children Education Programme (UCEP) in the city.

Around 4,200 working children are studying in five feeder schools under the UCEP in the city.

"Every year, we are enrolling around 500 to 550 students in six-month course and similar number of students passes out," AKM Mohsin, Divisional Coordinator of UCEP, said this while talking to BSS here Tuesday.

In another six-month course, 600 adolescents are also getting technical education on various trades from UCEP Rajshahi Technical School.

He said the schools are being operated in an effort to transform the underprivileged working children into productive human resources.

"Our aim is to eliminate child labourers from the society," Mohsin asserted adding the children are being trained to give them proper place in the society.

"Mainly, we teach them on how to show their best performance in working place besides how to protect them from exploitation, abuse and neglect," he added.

Many other teaching and learning issues like life, health, nutrition, education, care, leisure, recreation and how to participate to expression, information and thought are being practiced.

After passing out from the course, many of the trained adolescents earn Taka 7,000 to 8,000 per month from their employers, Mohsin revealed.

Meanwhile, number of children engaged in various jobs may be around one lakh in the city but in many cases, future of them remains uncertain, sources concerned said.

"We are working to improve living and livelihood condition of around two lakh poor and extreme poor population especially women and children through various anti-poverty programmes in the city," Ershadul Haque, Town Manager of Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP), said.

The UPPRP, a seven-year programme is being implemented in the city with financial and technical support from UNDP, UKaid and UNhabitat since 2008.

"We have no direct intervention to reduce the number of child labourers," Ershad admitted. He, however, said the anti-poverty components will ultimately yield a positive result towards reducing the pockets of child labour.

"To meet up the social needs, child labour has become quite widespread as many families rely on the income generated by their children for survival," Advocate Abdus Samad, local coordinator of Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust, said.

Initiatives of preventing the children from the hazardous jobs needed to be expanded on priority basis.

The legal practitioner views employers often prefer to employ children because they are cheaper even non-paying and considered to be more compliant and obedient than adults.

Many of the children, forced to work, are often exposed to vulnerable situations like abuse, violence and exploitation,denials of various types of human and child rights.

"I don't get any money from my job since my appointment around one and half years back," Nazmul, 12, of Smrity Engineering Shop in Stadium Market, has said. Not only Nazmul, most of around 250 child labors in the market remain unpaid.

Saiful Islam, owner of Saiful Engineering Workshop,clarified that there is no provision of paying during apprentiship period in the market as well as other shops in the city.

Advocate Samad said, no authority either government or non-government could be found having actual information on how many children are engaged in the risky and hazardous jobs in the city.

"We have to take the responsibility of protecting future of the working children from uncertainty," Sharmishtha Roy, Chairman of Social Work Department of Rajshahi University, said. She terms child labour as a serious and crucial social problem in the society.

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