Hopes for the Bangladesh Children
[/size][/color]Sheikh Shafiul Islam
Assistant Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication
Daffodil International University
Amidst some pragmatic limitations, Bangladesh has performed well in some of the socio-economic sectors as per the reports of international bodies. In 2001, the youth literacy rate was 63.6 percent which rose to 75.4 percent in 2011. The rate is higher in Khulna, Barisal and parts of Dhaka and Chittagong divisions. The country has made a progress in women’s education, for example, the female youth literacy rate is higher than that of male youths, at 76 percent and 74 percent respectively. One in four children is out of school now while it was one in two a decade ago. The proportion of real child workers has dropped over four percentage points to six percent in 2011. The prevalence of real child workers is higher in the urban areas than in the rural areas. (The Daily Star: July 25, 2013).
Between 1990 and 2010 the infant mortality rate in Bangladesh declined by 62 per cent and the under five rate by 67 per cent. Strong economic growth during those years helped boost efforts to reduce poverty, somewhat improve nutrition, make education more accessible to women and girls, and increase the resources available for health care. Perhaps more important, though, has been the sustained commitment of successive governments to improving child health through, for example, integrated management of childhood illnesses, increased immunization vitamin A, deforming, and water and sanitation coverage. Another key factor has been efforts to reduce gender inequalities, including government stipends to encourage girls’ attendance at school and a large NGO micro-finance movement that has focused largely on poor women. However, child survival rates lag behind national averages in some remote and disadvantaged regions of the country (Progress in Child well-being: building on what works, Safe the Children & unicef, Nov 2011), retrieved on 20.08.2013;
‘The 2012 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed’ examines trends in child mortality estimates since 1990, and shows that major reductions have been made in under-five mortality rates in all regions and diverse countries. This has translated into a sharp drop in the estimated number of under-five deaths worldwide. Data released today by UNICEF and the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation show that the number of children under the age of five dying globally fell from nearly 12 million in 1990 to an estimated 6.9 million in 2011. For instance, the Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) for Bangladesh in 1990 was 139, while in 2011 it decreased to 46 only.
The newly passed Children Act has made us optimistic about the improvement of child rights situations in the country. The Act has strictly prohibited any forms of violence and harassment against children. According to the Act, any sort of violence and oppression on children will be regarded as punishable offence with five years' jail term or Tk 100,000 fine. The same penalty is also applicable for forcing children into begging and leading them to go astray. Maximum three years' jail or Tk 100,000 lakh fine has been proposed for supplying arms or drugs to children. Under the law, Child Welfare Boards will be formed both at national and local levels and 'child desks will be set up at every police station under the supervision of a sub-inspector. Besides, separate child courts will be constituted in district and metropolitan areas to deal with the cases in connection with children (The New Age: 11.10.2012 & The Daily Prothom Alo, 26.07. 2013)