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BSS
  08 Sep 2021, 15:16

Participation of children in local governance helps building child- friendly society

   DHAKA, Sept 8, 2021 (BSS) - Father of eighth-grade student Arifa Begum,
aged about 14 years, at Gangachara upazila in Rangpur died four years ago.

   Arifa said, "Among the four siblings, we three sisters used to go to
school. But, my brother and mother could not run our studies and family
properly even after doing different kinds of work."

  Experts said special measures need to be taken to protect children so that
they can bring positive changes in the society.

  Children are the future leaders of the country. So, they should be given
the opportunity to practice some constructive works alongside their regular
studies. They should be given the opportunity to nurture their skills and
lessons. With such ideas, Save the Children, Bangladesh is conducting some
activities such as child friendly local governance.

  Abdullah Al Mamun, director of child protection activities of the
organization, said, "In few upazilas of Satkhira District, we are trying to
bring changes with the cooperation of the local government. We are doing this
work through forming a team of local children and teenagers of each union."

  He continued, "At the monthly union council or ward meetings, children
raise their problems. The authorities of union council take measures to solve
some problems immediately while they take long-term measure for addressing
other problems. For example, someone may be a victim of eve-teasing, someone
may have a child marriage or the road they are using to go to school may be
flooded or there may be no street lights, no money for school admission, no
safe water, lack of school benches or tube wells. "

   Mamun said, "The local government can easily solve these types of
problems. Again, if it is found that the road they use to go to school may be
in very poor condition, maybe there is a bridge problem somewhere, some of
them may be physically challenged but they don't get disability allowance,
someone's mother is a widow or she has some other problem. Immediate
solutions are not possible for these as it require development planning and
time. The local government is working taking time for these."

   Abdullah Al Mamun said, "We prepare the children or guide them after
discussion. As a result, they can easily and firmly address their problems.
Local government representatives are also trying their best. The Upazila
administration also extends their co-operation to solve the problems."

   "The children have UNO and police station numbers. They call them if
necessary. The experience of this work is very positive for us. The Ministry
of Local Government can work with our experiences in other upazilas of the
country. In this way, not just running after GPA 5, children can learn their
own experiences and necessities through such work. These are like their
practical classes which can play a role in building the country and the
nation."

   The local government is working in various ways to protect children, said
Abul Hossain, former project director of the multi-sector programmme for the
prevention of violence against women under the Ministry of Women and Children
Affairs.

   He said "Children should know the emergency numbers - 333, 999 and 109
including the phone numbers of the local police station, OC and UNO. If they
have enough idea about their effectiveness, more benefits can be capitalized.
These can be informed through the leaflet from the digital section of the
Union Parishad. "

   Mustakim Billah Farooqui, additional secretary of the local government
division (Union Parishad) said, "The government has such activities all over
the country. The main task of the local government is to maintain law and
order. Among these are the problems of children. Unions have various
meetings, village courts, mobile courts, public hearings to deal with child
marriage, rape, dowry, eve-teasing, road problems. These include legal
issues, as well as public awareness. The people concerned are being specially
trained to this end and some work is in progress."

  Officials, representatives of local government organizations and local
people expressed the hope that if the various donor organizations or non-
governmental organizations work with the government in this way, the
development process of the country will be accelerated.

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