DHAKA, Jan 2 2013 (IPS) - Nearly 50 percent of Bangladesh’s primary school students drop out before they complete fifth grade, as crushing poverty drives them into the informal employment sector.
Only a small fraction of the country’s workforce (0.4 percent) has received vocational, technical, or skills-development training, which results in lifelong dependence on extremely low wages.
The situation is particularly bleak for the country’s “street children” who hail from urban slums and work long hours (10 to 12 hours a day) in the informal sector, earning nothing more than 20 to 30 taka (about 0.32 dollars) daily.
A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) report revealed that 5.8 million children aged 10 to 14 years are employed in the informal sector, comprising 11.3 percent of the total labour force. These children are unable to attend school or pursue technical training.
In an effort to rectify the problem, which is severely hindering the country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the European Union has poured 2.5 million euros into local programmes designed to harness the skills and potential of impoverished youth.
At least 45,000 students aged between 15 and 18 are now waiting to graduate from the programme and secure decent jobs in the industrial sector, guaranteed a starting salary of 5,000 taka (or 62 dollars) per month.
Over 140,000 graduates of the programme have already found permanent jobs.
After service in the British SAS Regiment the author became a physician and then an orthopaedic surgeon.
He has held professorial positions in Canada, Vietnam and the United States, practiced and taught orthopaedic surgery in three continents and in several wars.
He has extensive experience as an expert witness in court. Somewhere along the way, time was found to operate a four hundred acre mixed farm, a one hundred seat restaurant and to obtain a licence as a flying instructor.
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