Joining Forces Bangladesh (JFB), an alliance of the six largest international NGOs, on Tuesday emphasised child development through providing healthcare, quality education and taking steps to prevent drug abuse and child marriage, to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) status.
The JFB revealed this at a report launching programme titled "Route to Rights: Children are Speaking Up" at the Spectra Convention Centre in Dhaka.
JFB, comprising of Save the Children, World Vision, Educo, Plan International, SOS Children's Villages International and Terre des Hommes International Federation, conducted the study to identify the most urgent, critical and transformative child rights issues acting as barriers to achieving SDGs.
Primary data was collected from Shariatpur, Shirajganj, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Mymensingh and urban slums in Dhaka, reaching 103 boys and girls aged between eight and 16.
"Most educational institutions do not have separate toilets for girls and boys," the report found.
Quality education is a far cry in Bangladesh due to a lack of qualified teachers, number of schools, classrooms, libraries and playgrounds, it said.
32 percent of urban infants receive harmful pre-lacteal feeds," the report said.
The report further termed the teaching methods as archaic and claimed that a child-friendly environment is missing from schools.
"Students feel bored due to poor teaching methods, and teachers who have no accountability also abuse students physically and mentally," the report stated, adding: "Corporal punishment is still an alarming issue as 67 percent parents support it in schools, and 79 percent parents hit their children at home."
The study also said, child marriage is a big barrier to child development. At present, 59 percent girls were married at 18 years of age, and 18 percent at the age of 15.
Columnist and researcher Afsan Chowdhury presided over the event while Planning Minister MA Mannan attended as the chief guest.
Among others, Deputy Director of World Vision Shabira Nupur, Shamsul Hoque Tuku, MP, Sayeda Rubina Akter, MP, Director General of Secondary and Higher Education Prof Dr Syed Md Golam Faruk, and country directors of the six NGOs, also spoke at the event.
Call for action
JFB's call for action included: increase investment for health, safety and development of children by reviewing budget spending; hearing and heeding children's voices by making sure they know and understand their rights and have the space to regularly and safely express their views and needs.
It also called for strengthening coordination among various government agencies, and recommended establish a Child Directorate to foster the coordination.
They suggested considering education as a means of holistic development for children, and called for investing more for quality education, introducing self defence classes, promoting sanitation campaigns and nurturing mental health.
The alliance also urged taking strong legal measures to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.