In many countries including Bangladesh, children of extremely poor families are ill-fated and deprived of social rights. They are the most neglected group in any society. Even though some NGOs and government organizations separately work for better future of those children, but there’s no holistic approach or actions to ensure a better future for extremely poor children.
Being extremely poor, they pass a very difficult and unhappy life. By birth they are poor and live without means from generation after generation. The attitude of the rich people towards them is also disappointing; as if their fate is predetermined to endure suffering. Their situation compels them to earn their livelihood from tender age. Merely at the age of 5 they work as a domestic worker in exchange of food and clothing. Their remuneration solely depends on the mercy of their employers. These child domestic workers often suffer different forms of exploitation by their hirers.
At the age of 8, they take up full time job for long working hours. Usually they work as a daily laborer, railway porter, rickshaw puller etc. They also work in brick-fields, workshops and factories for minimal wages on no work no pay basis. Moreover, they have to work in unhealthy and hazardous condition without any safety precaution. In comparison to their ages they bear too much responsibility with physical and mental pressure. On the plea of a minor fault, they are removed from work without paying any compensation. It is very common to see minor boys and girls selling flowers or other stuffs by the road.
Irrespective of caste or creed, every child has the right to grow up as a good citizen of a nation. It is understandable that ensuring a better future for all extremely poor children is not an easy task for any nation, and it can’t be done overnight. However, while the processes for ensuring that is going on, government and non government organizations can do a lot to address the real needs of those ill-fated children and their families by creating child-friendly work opportunities.
This may sound counter-intuitive as all NGOs in the world are voicing against child labor. but in developing and highly populated countries, there’s a huge difference between reality and its reflection. It can take a state a few decades to formulate and implement its policies and strategies for the betterment of something. But during these few decades, lives of millions of those ill-fated children hang in the balance. So, my suggestion is to create a favorable condition for those children in the meanwhile that can bring significant positive changes to their lives.
Here are some recommendations to ensure a better future for the extremely poor children
a) Create children-friendly job opportunities, particularly in technical and vocational areas.
b) Ensure workplace standard in terms of health, safety, and security.
c) Establish a minimum wage per hour rate.
d) Create apprenticeship for children in child-friendly job sectors.
e) Introduce children-friendly work for food and education programs.
f) Establish strict rules and regulations against child abuse at workplaces.
g) Ensure in-plant training facilities.
h) Create reward systems and ensure incentive for better performance.
i) Ensure work opportunities for those children who go to school.
j) Ensure strict monitoring by government agencies to ensure compliance to these facilities.
I thank Mr. Ashiqul Islam Sudin (aisudin) for editing this post and adding a couple of insightful paragraphs, which in fact gave the article a new perspective.