Bangladesh church joins campaign for child rights, education

Cardinal Patrick D' Rozario of Dhaka commits to helping millions of disadvantaged children
Bangladesh church joins campaign for child rights, education

Students raise hands in committing to work for the elimination of child labor, end child exploitation and to offer education to Bangladeshi underprivileged children during an event at St. Joseph's secondary school in Mohammadpur, Dhaka on April 2. (Photo by Porimol Palma) reporter, Dhaka
April 4, 2017
The Catholic Church in Bangladesh has joined the Indian Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi's global campaign to eliminate child labor, end child exploitation and promote education.

Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka gave his full support at the launch of Satyarthi's "100 Million for 100 Million" campaign at St. Joseph's secondary school in Mohammadpur, Dhaka on April 2.

"Together with all the students and teachers of Catholic educational institutions, I pledge my commitment to the 100 million disadvantaged children," said Cardinal Rozario who is also the chairman of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board.

Satyarthi, an Indian child rights and education advocate won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai. He launched the campaign in Delhi last December through his organization, Children's Foundation. Satyarthi also attended the launch of the campaign in the Bangladeshi capital.

The cardinal said he was extremely delighted by the initiative, which was in keeping with church teachings.

"We, who have received an education, cannot hold it back, but must spread the light of education among others," said Cardinal Rozario.

Christians in Bangladesh are hailed for their contribution in education. The Catholic Church runs a university, eight colleges and 580 primary and high schools, providing education to some 100,000 students — most of them non-Christians.

Caritas offers basic education to 158,605 children aged 3-14 from the poorest and most marginalized families in 1,005 villages across Bangladesh.


Indian Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi along with Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka and prominent educationists wave hands, committing to work for elimination of child labor, end child exploitation and to offer education to Bangladeshi underprivileged children at the event. (Photo by Porimol Palma)


The extent of the problem

There are over 100 million child laborers in the world, including five million in slavery. More than 100 million children are out of school and a staggering two million have been killed in conflicts in the last decade, according to the foundation's website.

There are some six million-child laborers in Bangladesh, deprived of education and good health, according to the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), a leading education NGO with some 950 partners across Bangladesh, including church groups, which organized the Dhaka event.

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Rasheda K. Chowdhury, CAMPE director, said its partners would run the campaign in Bangladesh to mobilize policymakers, activists, youths and privileged children to support the disadvantaged groups.

"We will mobilize the policymakers and young people to raise their voice and contribute to the process of saving children from labor and send them to schools," she said.

Speaking at the event, Satyarthi said in his address that hundreds of thousands of children are currently refugees, who are not being allowed a safe haven. "They are deprived of minimum protection. Children have not created wars or boundaries or walls. The adults have done these," said Satyarth.

The Nobel Peace laureate said the strength of former child laborers in India and the impact of other young people who are taking action around the world have inspired the global campaign.

"We aim to support the largest youth mobilization in history, standing together to change the future so that every child has a chance at life," he said.

Bangladesh State Minister for Labor and Employment Mujibul Haque said at the event that the number of Bangladesh's child laborers came down to 1.7 million in 2013 from 3.4 million in 2001.

"We will eliminate hazardous child labor by 2021," he said.

Also at the event, Primary and Mass Education Minister Mustafizur Rahman said the primary school enrolment rate in Bangladesh was 100 percent, and the challenge now was for improving the quality of education.

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