COVID-19 could hamper the country’s plan to eliminate child labour


As countries mark the World Day Against Child Labour, the COVID-19 crisis
threatens to reverse years of progress. The economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus may
create a spike in the incidence of child labor cases in Bangladesh. Educo, a child-focused
organization warns that the COVID-19 crisis could hamper the country’s plan to elimínate various
forms child labor within 2025, particularly child labor involving hazardous work, as part of
Bangladesh’s commitment to attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to Abdul Hamid, Country Director of Educo Bangladesh:
“Many families have suffered a significant financial loss due to COVID-19, either because the
adults have lost income or because they can’t go to work because of the nationwide lockdown.
What we need to understand is that most of these families are already living on subsistence wages
even before the lockdown, living from hand to mouth.”
“With the easing of the lockdown, many vulnerable children have been desperate to return to
work to bring food to the table despite the threat of contracting coronavirus. Many have also
started working in service industries, domestic work, and in small manufacturing. We are also
extremely concerned with children who had not worked before but are now forced to earn for
their family.”, Hamid furthers.
According to a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, child
labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk. Educo says that children
are the worst sufferers of the crisis as families have been pushed into poverty following the dire
effects of coronavirus lockdown
Hamid says: “With the economic cost of this crisis, we fear that thousands of children will not be
able to go back to school even when the situation returns to normal and schools are open again,
because families will need this extra income to survive.”
According to the International Labour Organization, there are more than 150 million child
labourers globally. Of these, 73 million carry out dangerous jobs, like for example those who have
to manipulate inflammable material or carry heavy weights, among others. A 2019 report carried
out by Educo highlighted that there around 3.5 million children are engaged in child labor in
Bangladesh, with about 2.8 million of the total child labor force involved in hazardous work.
Educo Bangladesh is running an anti-child labor project ODHIKAR (Options for Dignity of Human
Being by Influencing Key Actors to Reform), to help improve children’s living conditions and give them the opportunity to go back to school.

The organization raises following action points to help ensure the future of the most vulnerable
children:
• Government must take initiative to cover all children engaged in child labour and their
family under social safety net scheme, even those who are not permanent residents in the
area
• Government should take initiative to revise National Plan of Action on child labour and
implement that accordingly.
• To protect child labour in this pandemic situation, Government can provide financial
support to the child labour from Workers’ Welfare Fund under Ministry of Labour and
Employment.
• Government and civil society organization should work together with additional efforts to
prevent and eliminate existing and potential child labour in the upcoming days
As we prepare ourselves to survive through the enormous challenges brought about the COVID-
19 pandemic we must not forget our responsibilities towards hundreds of poor and vulnerable
children.
ENDS
For media inquiries please contact,
Kazi Sayem Jayed,
Communications Coordinator, Educo Bangladesh
[email protected]
+880171902545
About Educo: Educo is a global development NGO focused on education and child
protection which works in 13 countries carrying out projects which include participation
from more than 400,000 children and more than 200,000 adults