Despite commendable progress in many sectors, Bangladesh is still fraught with the lack of proper initiatives and institutions essential for children’s development. Access to education for all children has yet not been achieved fully. On the other hand, children going to school is overburdened with books and study pressure. Child labour is still pervasive. To promote and protect child rights and wellbeing it is high time Bangladesh established the office of the child ombudsperson.
Speakers made these observations today on Sunday (24 March) at a stakeholder consultation meeting titled “Child rights: Child ombudsperson” organised at BRAC Centre in the capital.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and BRAC arranged the meeting in which BRAC director for advocacy, technology and partnership programme KAM Morshed gave the welcome speech. Moderated by NHRC chairperson Kazi Reazul Hoque, the event was attended, among others, by senior secretary for ministry of social welfare Juena Aziz, additional secretary for women and children affairs ministry Laila Jesmin and director of BRAC Education Programme Safiqul Islam. Representatives from Save The Children, International Organisation of Migration (IOM), Plan International and other organisations were also present.
The speakers mentioned that the government has undertaken many plans and initiatives to ensure a conducive environment for children’s development by reducing poverty and meeting their essential needs. Specialised programmes are being implemented to rehabilitate extreme poor and homeless children, stop child labour, prevent use of children for political purpose and create healthy environment for children’s physical and mental development through education and entertainment.
In the context of the rapidly changing needs worldwide and according to the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the government of Bangladesh has already updated the National Child Policy in 2011, originally enacted in 1994. Though the appointment of a child ombudsperson is binding by Section 10.3 of this policy, the appointment has not been made till now.
NHRC chairperson Kazi Reazul Hoque said, “We have to do two things first, one, eliminate all forms of child labour, and two, strengthen GO-NGO collaboration. To do that we are regularly meeting with different non-governmental organisations to exchange experiences. We compliment the decision not to take examinations up to Standard Three. We also want that the students of Class Five are free from the stress of public examinations.”
BRAC Education Programme director Safiqul Islam said, “We are eager to work collaboratively with NHRC to promote the rights of the children.”
Speakers also informed the meeting that the government has established a child commission through a series of consultation with the stakeholders.