Asia-Pacific, Education, Food & Agriculture, Multimedia, Population, Poverty & MDGs, Slideshow

Poverty Plagues Children in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Jan 2 2013 (IPS) - Nearly 50 percent of Bangladesh’s primary school students drop out before they complete fifth grade, as crushing poverty drives them into the informal employment sector.

Only a small fraction of the country’s workforce (0.4 percent) has received vocational, technical, or skills-development training, which results in lifelong dependence on extremely low wages.


The situation is particularly bleak for the country’s “street children” who hail from urban slums and work long hours (10 to 12 hours a day) in the informal sector, earning nothing more than 20 to 30 taka (about 0.32 dollars) daily.

A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) report revealed that 5.8 million children aged 10 to 14 years are employed in the informal sector, comprising 11.3 percent of the total labour force. These children are unable to attend school or pursue technical training.

In an effort to rectify the problem, which is severely hindering the country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the European Union has poured 2.5 million euros into local programmes designed to harness the skills and potential of impoverished youth.

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme quickly became one of the key tools for guaranteeing long-term and higher-paid employment for young people in the country.

With support from Save the Children, the Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programmes (UCEP) has used the TVET curriculum since the early 1970s to provide basic training to working street children over 15 years of age.

At least 45,000 students aged between 15 and 18 are now waiting to graduate from the programme and secure decent jobs in the industrial sector, guaranteed a starting salary of 5,000 taka (or 62 dollars) per month.

Over 140,000 graduates of the programme have already found permanent jobs.

 
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