Vol. 5 Num 317 Mon. April 18, 2005  
Front Page

Child 'MPs' for better edn, health systems

Children at a mock parliament session in the capital yesterday placed demands before the 'House' for greater facilities to the education and health care systems.

The session provided a lesson or two for the mainstream politicians about how to hold a healthy parliamentary session with mutual respect for fellow parliamentarians, regardless of party affiliation.

Unlike the Jatiya Sangsad, the children's parliament did not suffer from quorum crisis as all the 64 child parliamentarians from as many districts attended the session in time.

All the child parliamentarians placed their arguments logically and gave suggestions with permission from the 'Speaker'. There was no chaos in the 'House' that discussed the theme, 'Investment for children in the education and health sectors'.

Save The Children, Australia, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organised the Child Parliament Session-2005 at Biam auditorium in Dhaka.

The objective of such parliament is to facilitate developing children and youths' evolving capability to exercise their rights and responsibilities as active citizens.

In the first session, the discussion was confined to the education sector, which focused on the scarcity of educational instruments, inadequate supply of textbooks and fewer numbers of teachers for students in the primary schools.

"In many cases, free books that are distributed in the primary schools are old. Why should this be the case?" questioned Jasmin Akhter, a child parliamentarian from Gaibandha.

She also suggested the government take steps to distribute free textbooks at the secondary level.

Masum Ahmed, another parliamentarian from Narayanganj, told the session that many primary schools are suffering from an acute shortage of teachers. Teachers also cannot take classes regularly as they have to do other government work such as preparing voter lists.

Other parliamentarians observed that free textbooks should reach the students before the start of the academic year and that the curriculum should be changed frequently.

In his speech in the first session as the chief guest, Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said the children's parliament should be an example for the Jatiya Sangsad.

"There is no boycott culture in the children parliament session which could be a lesson for the Jatiya Sangsad," Bhuiyan noted.

On problems plaguing the education sector, he said the government is trying to build a sound education sector but, in many cases, the money allocated for the education sector is not being properly used.

He also said teachers' benefits should be raised and they have to be helpful to the students and have to perform their duties.

In the second session that focussed on the health sector, the child parliamentarians alleged that doctors in the government hospitals do not give proper services to the patients. Instead, they prefer to remain busy with their private practice.

They also said more government hospitals with increased facilities need to be established to provide people with greater access to medical treatment.