Jahangir Nakir:“In order to ensure the rehabilitation and holistic development of all the disadvantaged street children, social security forces should be expanded”- National Child Policy 2011, section 6.2.3. Under sub-section (1) of the International Children’s Rights Act 20, “All children, who are suffering from permanent deprivation of an interest in the family environment, are entitled to special protection and assistance from the State.” The collective initiative has become very important for GO-NGO to establish the rights of their physical, mental and moral development, academic education, the livelihood of the underprivileged and street children, and to build their self-sufficiency in the future.
The 89th edition of Bangladesh Child act 2013, has told about the disadvantaged children in 16 categories. In the inauguration of World Children’s Day and Children’s Rights Week 2015, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given clear instructions to the concerned ministry on the rehabilitation of street children. She said, “Why should our children wander in the streets? Not even a single child will roam around the streets. No child will live a miserable life like this.” To this end, she advised the government, including the private sector, all to work together for the rehabilitation of the street children. Based on this guidance, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has done a survey in Dhaka North and South City. Later in 2016, the programs on the rehabilitation of street children were started.
Women and Children Affairs Ministry concerted efforts for rehabilitation of the underprivileged and street children. Long-term rehabilitation, initiatives were taken for comprehensive plans with the representatives of GoB-NGO. Here are some proposals for taking and implementing these plans:
Who are the street children? and the number of street children:
According to UNICEF, the children who live on the road or have livelihoods in the street, are called street children. There are different opinions on the number of street children. In 2004, the BIDS survey said, this number will reach 16 hundred thousand in 2024. At present, some people think this number is around 13 hundred thousand. But who are actually the street children now? If the children who are on the pathways, playing, sleeping and living, are street children, what is their number? The mentioned study apparently has become very old. It is very important to have a new realistic The number of children at risk is constantly increasing and new problems are rising. So, if the actual number of street children is not known now, it would be far-fetched to create practical plans for street children program activities.
Street children related information & Guidebook:
What are the public and private sector programs for street children? Everyone needs to know who works for these and who is doing what? There must be a helpful information book about this. When the street-children related organizations are completing their own service, then due to the partial service, they are returning to the previous life. Therefore, there should be an information booklet where information about “Where is the vulnerable children in the whole country, their contact details, capacities etc. will be given in detail so that everyone can be able to assist the children.
Standard Common Guidelines and Monitoring and Coordination in Shelter home Management:
There are various public-private shelter homes in Bangladesh for underprivileged and street children. These shelter homes should be conducted according to the provision of child rights or the protection of children. A quality guide book can be made. The Department of Child affairs must formulate a standard Common Directive to manage all the appropriate children’s homes with relevant shelter homes. As well as following the guidelines, shelter homes can be managed by a monitoring cell to see whether there is a networked representative led by Child Department. It will be observed by a Monitoring Cell that every child is being maintained as per the child protection properly. Monitoring Cell will recommend the concerned department for development with the necessary counselling.
Roadshow/ Campaign/ Public awareness to stop the source of street children:
Widespread publicity will be organized on the sources of street children. Organizing national awareness building can take massive action by including the local administration and the local government. No child will stay in the street during school hours. There will be a special incentive program with comprehensive public awareness on this issue. If a child without a guardian is found, then the child will be rescued and sent to a shelter. After providing the counselling service, the family will be contacted. When the child is at risk, he will be sent to the shelter for rehabilitation.
Enhances the capabilities of employees, volunteers and the organization:
Now more organizations are working than the need. Their inefficiency and unawareness are the “deficit”. It is necessary to know about child rights and protection, including special skills for working with children, special skills for child care. Most voluntary organizations do not understand these things and start to work and get involved in various complications. To increase the capability of organizations, budget proposals including project proposals, creating a child-friendly work environment, development of case management system, and training of peer education, child database creation, counselling and child training support can be given.
The underprivileged children grow up in many adversities. Generally speaking, the behaviour of street children is – lying, being excessively emotional, affecting others with their own needs, not hesitating to crime, not easily being convinced by anyone, being prone to destructive work, being negative, indulging in open-minded life, not easily abiding by anyone. Psychological help is very important to bring a positive change in their mentality.
Training and Employment:
Special entertaining teaching methods for underprivileged children must be ensured. By introducing non-formal short-term education for older children, timely professional vocational training can be made. Employment will be arranged for them after training them on various trades on agro farm & non-agro farm. after training, they can be helped to develop as entrepreneurs.
The majority of underprivileged children somehow or other get introduced to drugs. These children give up a good future because of drug addiction. Therefore, these children will have free treatment facilities for drug addiction in each service center. Before transmitting the child to the home, they must be provided with their drug addiction treatment.
Identity / Address / Birth Registration:
The identity and address of underprivileged children are not available in many cases. Sometimes the children cannot even say the names of their parents. In that case, the birth registration of each child is not possible due to complications. As a result, these children are deprived of civil benefits in the future. Under the supervision of any family, small abandoned children fall into legal complications. So the expert opinion is that it is very important to readjust the legal processes about birth registration and parenting issues.
Children’s Expenditure (money):
Children’s expenditure accounts are determined by their own rules. Considering overall market expenditure, it is important to have a standardized, timely and uniform cost per child. It is necessary to follow the same expenditure policy in the rehabilitation of children. Expenditure policies are required to maintain the food menu, education equipment, cleanliness, “cleanliness, self-service, clothing” rooms, housing facilities, bedding, and toilet facilities, keeping the same standard.
Currently, the whole world is facing a crisis for COVID-19 and disadvantaged people are suffering the most. The number of infected persons is increasing in Bangladesh. To overcome the danger our government has taken all necessary steps instructed by the World Health Organization. However, from the observation of Street Children Activists Network (SCAN) Bangladesh, it is seen that street children are deprived of most of the steps taken by the government. We believe our children friendly government is capable enough to support all the vulnerable children and ensure a safe and secure environment for them now. Now we prosed to ensure the safety of underprivileged children by taking the following steps:
Department of Social Services has to ensure the shelter for street children in the centers run under their supervision. Ministry of Health has to ensure its health service and test them. Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has to ensure the foods and other necessities of the children who will be living in the centers. Ministry of Woman and Children Affairs has to ensure the psychosocial counselling for these children. A committee has to be formed to ensure the children’s’ safety in this COVID19 crisis and also plan to rehabilitate them after the crisis.
Finally, I want to say, there is a need for collective initiatives, active participation and realistic plans for all the disadvantaged and street children’s welfare. Also, it is impossible to ensure public health safety keeping the street children under the threat of COVID-19. So we should work hand and hand to fight against the Coronavirus crisis and protect the children. Only then Bangladesh will be successful in achieving prominence as a role-model in the world by becoming a street children-free country.
The children are the future of the nation. 40% of the total population of the country is children among them 15% .of disadvantaged children which are a large part of severely underserved. When the child development of children is incomplete and disrupted, the nation will receive talentless leadership. The progress of the nation will stop. Therefore, the best interests of children in all matters are to be ensured. Recent Budget has declared a separate child directorate for the benefit of children, Its long time our expectation for planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and coordination of countrywide activities.
Author: Asstt. Director, Dhaka Ahsania Mission and President of Street Children Activists Network-SCAN