21 Jun 2022, 21:13

Bangladeshi children seek more allocation in education, health: UNICEF

DHAKA, June 21, 2022 (BSS) - Nine in ten Bangladeshi children say that it is very important for the government to spend more on education, health and other areas that directly impact children, according to a new UNICEF survey.

A total of 14,000 children and 37,000 young people aged 18-24 participated in the survey, which asked them for their opinions about the national budget. Children are also posting their top priority asks for the national budget on UNICEF's Generation Parliament online platform, a UNICEF press release said.

"Children have a lot to say about what they want from us, about their hopes and aspirations. As public representatives we need to listen to them and engage with them meaningfully. From my position, I will continue to champion their rights and convey their voices to national leaders for a better Bangladesh," said Md Shamsul Haque Tuku, Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights.

"Every aspect of children's lives has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the findings from this survey show that they are aware and concerned. It is critical that national leaders listen to them," said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Country Representative.

Learning loss caused by eighteen months of pandemic school closures was identified as a priority in the survey. Over 85 percent of children who participated said that it is very important for Bangladesh to spend more on education to help children recover from learning loss.

A majority of the children also said what is most needed is investment in teacher education and training.

"I want to see more spending on education in the national budget, prioritising primary and secondary schools. This is needed if we want to end child labour, child marriages and prevent children from dropping out of school," said 13-year-old Gargee Tanushree Paul.

Quality healthcare at affordable prices also emerged as a pressing concern. For more than 90 percent of the children who participated in the survey, it is very important that Bangladesh invests more to speed up progress towards universal health coverage.

"In the national budget, the allocation for the health sector should be increased. To ensure better health of children and pregnant mothers, we need more investment in trained nurses, midwives and specialised equipment", said 17-year-old Ibna Al Ramiz.

The survey findings and children's debate entries on the Generation Parliament platform show that children are both aware and eloquent when given the opportunity to express what they want from their national leaders.

However, the survey also revealed that many children do not feel that their opinions matter: only about half of children said that it was very important to listen to children's views while deciding on the national budget.

This low sense of empowerment echoes the findings from UNICEF's 2021 Changing Childhood project, which showed that Bangladesh, when compared to surveyed countries worldwide, has the second-lowest share of children and young people who believe that it is very important for political leaders to listen to children.

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