Safety, sanitation crisis swell up girls’ dropout

Lack of social safety, sanitation, prevalence of child marriage and labour hinder children from continuing their education in Bangladesh.

The observation came at the launching ceremony of policy briefs on child marriage, child marriage and out-of-school children in Dhaka on Wednesday.

education2222The policy brief revealed that out-of-school children were found in almost all districts, with the highest concentration in Bandarban, Sunamganj, Bhola, Netrokona and Cox’s Bazar and the lowest in Jhalokati, Barguna, Pirojpur, Feni and Jessore.

It came up with a number of recommendations that include monitoring and increasing education and social protection budgets, improving and extending a social protection system, sensitive to family poverty, and the needs of children, mobilising parents and communities to eliminate child marriage, amending the child marriage restraint act 1929 and ensuring that all girls attend school and complete secondary education.

Shedding light on the importance of ensuring security for the girls to eliminate school dropouts, Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), shared an anecdote. ‘I knew a girl whose parents wanted to arranege marriage of her before her SSC examinations. I firmly told them they can never do that before she reached her 18th birthday. One day I saw a crowd in front of my home. They were the girl’s community people and her relatives. They told me they had to marry her off anyway because the hooligans of their area threatened to abduct that girl,” said the former advisor to the caretaker government.

She added, “Later, they asked if I could ensure her security in her community. I gave up eventually. The girl had to get married and gave birth to a boy. I still remember her words. She said she is glad that she had a boy. If it were a girl, she would have to embrace the same fate like her.”

State minister of women and children affairs Meher Aforze Chumki said the budget allocation for education needs to be raised.

“Child marriage cannot be prevented only by enacting laws. It cannot be eliminated overnight as it is a social curse,” she added.

She blamed lack of toilets at schools as one of the major causes that leads adolescent girls to drop out from their schools.

Echoing the state minister, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said ensuring sanitation in schools needs special attention.

“It is mandatory to set up toilets in every school,” he added.

Three policy briefs on child marriage, child labour and out-of-school children in Bangladesh were jointly produced by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), and UNICEF Bangladesh.

Courtesy: Prothom Alo