The Financial Express

About our children

| Updated: October 23, 2017 11:56:52

About our children
In Bangladesh child issues have many dimensions. There are infant mortality, malnutrition, child labour, school drop-outs, child abuse etc. The street children are a constant reminder that there are serious problems in society. It seems that in its quest for prosperity and development, the nation has lost its soul somewhere along the way. 
There is no denying that Bangladesh has made significant progress in wealth creation, although widespread inequality exists. The government is showing its increasing economic prowess too. The only thing that is notable is that long-term initiatives for the underprivileged children are missing. But there is need to be mindful that in 15 years from now, the numerous children who are growing up on the streets without proper care could jeopardize social and national security.
Maybe, Bangladesh government will be able to show enough statistics that children are indeed their top priority. But questions can always be raised as to whether it is doing enough for the children in proportion to its capabilities. Given the financial soundness of present Bangladesh, it is possible for the government to find meaningful and prompt solution to the question of street children. If the government is achieving so much in all sectors then why will it not be able to provide basic services to the street children? The efforts of NGOs and civil service organisations are visible but they cannot reach  out to so many children. Only government has the financial and organisational capability to bring an immediate change in the lives of the street children.
The speed with which the country is going about solving the problems of children is not enough. It cannot possibly let another generation pass before it is able to take the children off the streets and arrange proper care for them. Collective creativity should be directed towards convincing the government to mobilise adequate resources to ensure basic opportunities to the street children - and for children of Bangladesh in general.
For a start, a new and a separate ministry for children can be curved out of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. Women have their own set of issues which are as important as the children's ones. Women are adults and they have been able to make their voice heard all over the world in the past few decades. Such is not the case with children. Putting them together with women has taken the spotlight away from them.
However, a government ministry alone will not be able to save all such children. Rather a model should be thought in line with Private-Public partnership, with the government providing bulk of the resources and policy support and the 'private' organisations i.e., national and international NGOs participating (side by side with the government) in grass-roots service delivery, process innovation and refinement. Part of the resource could come from introducing a 'children tax' with luxury consumer goods. But methods can be debated later, the first thing is to find the soul of the nation back and build the political will to make children a top priority. 

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