Bangladesh updates

OCTOBER 2021 UPDATES:


Impact on Children and Families:


All educational institutions in Bangladesh have opened after 1.5 years. An estimated 7.86 million primary and secondary school students suffered learning losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced school closures over the past year, according to a recent survey. The findings of the survey were jointly presented by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) at a webinar on October 18, 2021.


According to the survey, 22% of primary school students and 30% of secondary school students suffered learning losses during the school closures. An alarming 34% of boys at the secondary level became involved in child labour during the closures. More than 8% of school-going boys were engaged in income-generating activities at both the times they were surveyed.


Impact on Parent Workers:

 

Working parents in the garment sector have been facing child care and breastfeeding challenges due to the closure of factory childcare centres for around 1.5 years. These factory-based childcare centres are only now beginning to reopen.




SEPTEMBER 2021 UPDATES:


Impact on Children and Parents:


  • After one and half years of school closure, all education institutions except for universities are expected to open again in phases starting from September 12 in Bangladesh.


  • The pronlonged closure of schools has significantly disrupted their education experience and according to a World Bank estimate, 38 million children in Bangladesh have missed out on the opportunity to receive proper learning. A World Bank study also found that uptake of alternative learning methods has been low, with only 50% of surveyed children having access to digital devices like radios, computers and televisions. Nearly all had access to mobile phones, but many didn't have access to the internet.




AUGUST 2021 UPDATES:


General updates:


The coronavirus situation has deteriorated further across the country in Bangladesh. By August 11, 2021 Bangladesh has recorded 1,376,322 cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths rose to 23,161 while the number of recovered patients rose to 1,234,762.

 

On August 11, 2021 the country came out of a nationwide lockdown; offices, shops and malls are now open again. Buses and trains can carry passengers at full capacity but can't operate more than 50 per cent of their total vehicles every day.

 

Impact on Industry:

 

On August 1, garment export factories reopened, following pressure from garment manufacturers and exporters to allow factories to reopen.

 

The impact on children:

 

Anticipated impact on education: Considering the upward trend of Covid-19 infections in the country, The Ministry of Education has decided to extend the ongoing closure of schools and other educational institutions until August 30, 2021. To ensure the health and overall safety of students, teachers, staff and guardians, the Ministry took this decision. 

 

These school closures have a significant impact on continuity of education and availability of remote services for primary and secondary aged children. All children are staying at home and those from poor families do not have access to TV/online based learning.

 

Impacts on families: 


Parent garment workers are facing child care and breastfeeding challenges due to the closure of factory-based childcare centres. Moreover, with schools closed for over year and counting, working parents are facing the ongoing challenge of finding a way to supervise their school-going children. 

 

On the flipside, many parents have lost their livelihoods because of the pandemic. Day labourers, small businessmen, transport workers and rickshaw pullers are some of the hardest hit. Prolonged lack of income is increasing families’ vulnerability to food insecurity and at the same time, the price of essential commodities including food in increasing sharply. 




JULY 2021 UPDATES:


General updates:


  • A fatal factory fire occurred on July 8, 2021 at the Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Rupganj, Bangladesh. At least 52 people were killed in this tragic fire, which forced many workers to leap for their lives from the upper floors, and more than 50 others were injured. Reports suggest that many of the victims were women and children who worked in the factory, with children as young as 11 years old among those unaccounted for. Further information available here.


  • Bangladesh is currently fighting against a new COVID-19 outbreak in the country. By July 13, 2021 Bangladesh has recorded 1,047,155 cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths rose to 16,842, while the number of recovered patients rose to 889,167.


  • To control the spread of the virus, the Government extended lockdown from July 1 to July 14, 2021 throughout the country except food, emergency service and garments. 


  • Another new lockdown for 14 days is coming from July 23 to August 5, 2021.


Impact on Industry:


  • During the lockdown from July 1 to July 14, all factories were open. Due to shipment and workers safety (millions of worker would go to villages together) the BGMEA and BKMEA requested and the Government allowed owners to keep all factories open. 


  • The next lockdown will cover the garment factories as well. All factories have been ordered to close operations after the end of Eid from July 23 for 14 days; that will impact production significantly.


  • The State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian urged factory owners to pay all the dues including salaries and Eid bonus of their workers before July 19 and decide on Eid holidays through discussions with their factory workers, in line with government Eid holidays.


  • The State Minister said "Coronavirus vaccines will soon be given to the workers under the age of 35 on a priority basis," she added.


The impact on children and families:

 

  • Education anticipated impacts: Bangladesh has extended its shutdown of schools and educational institutions across the country, until August 5, 2021. Schools have been closed since 17 March 2020 and all examinations have been cancelled. 


  • The pandemic is having a significant impact on continuity of education and availability of remote services for primary and secondary aged children.


  • Due to the closure of schools, all children are staying at home. Poor children in particular don’t have access to TV/ online based learning.


  • Impacts on family: Parent workers in the garment sector are facing challenges related to child care and breastfeeding due to the closure of factory childcare centres. Moreover, the year-long closure of schools has also increased the need for childcare or adult supervision of school-going children, which has created another challenge for working parents. 


  • Substantial numbers of parents will have no or limited livelihood options; especially day labours, owners of small businesses, transport workers, rickshaw pullers. Workers are more vulnerabile to food insecurity and food price spikes for essential commodities. 




JUNE 2021 UPDATES:


General updates:


  • Bangladesh is currently fighting against a new COVID-19 outbreak in the country. By June 7, 2021 Bangladesh has recorded 810,990 cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths rose to 12,839, while the number of recovered patients rose to 751,322.

 

  • In view of the worsening situation in India, Bangladesh closed the land borders with the country on April 26 that has been extended several times. The latest extension would be until June 14. Also, they imposed lockdown in five Rohingya refugee camps after a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases there.


Impact on workers:


  • According to a research report done by IHRB, Bangladeshi workers faced a 35% pay cut during the lockdown month. Many workers in other surveys too said they earned much less than before, or their salaries were delayed.




APRIL 2021 UPDATES::


  • Bangladesh has entered a strict seven-day lockdown beginning from April 14 following a sharp rise in infections. However, mills and factories will remain open during this time. According to the Dhaka Tribune, factory workers must go to work on foot, despite the government's instructions for apparel factory owners to ensure their own transport systems. The factory owners claim that since most of them live within the vicinity of their workplace, they can easily walk to the factories during lockdown.

 

  • The ministry of labour has formed 23 special crisis management committees to monitor the factories that will remain open during the lockdown, in order to ensure that these are adhering to the health and hygiene guidelines. The industrial police and local administration will assist the committees.





MARCH 2021 UPDATES:


  • The Bangladeshi government announced that schools are set to reopen on March 30, and that universities will resume classes on May 17. However, the government may review the decision following a rise in infection rates.

 

  • The pandemic has led to a sharp rise in child marriages according to BRAC. This is fuelled by prolongued school closures, joblessness or job loss in families, poverty, food scarcity and insecurity among parents. 





FEBRUARY 2021 UPDATES:


The impact on children and families:


  • Bangladesh has extended its shutdown of schools until and educational institutions across the country, except for Kawmi madrasas, until Feb 14 in a bid to stop the further spread of COVID-19.

 

  • Schools in Bangladesh have been closed since March 2020 and has resulted in the cancellation of major state exams.   

 

  • Bangladesh, as of February 3, is the only country in South Asia that has its schools, colleges, and other mainstream educational institutes fully closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Insiders warn of a significant spike in children dropping out of the education system and there have been reports of children unable to access online education. 

 

  • The near year-long closure of schools has also increased the need for childcare or adult supervision, which has created huge challenges for working parents. 

 

  • The Centre is currently supporting five families with additional financial support until March 2021 to help them overcome extreme hardships brought on by the pandemic.


The situation of workers:


The number of garment workers who have lost their jobs due the pandemic may be much higher than previously reported, according to a new joint survey by the Centre for Policy Dialogue and Mapped in Bangladesh (MiB) and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). The survey, which mapped 610 garment factories between October and November 2020, found that as many as 350,000 garment workers lost jobs and 56,372 were laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The impact on industry:


  • Garment manufacturers in Bangladesh warn that their industry could collapse unless the government agrees to extend a scheme to lend them money to pay workers' wages because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

  • The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) wants the government to extend the salary stimulus package by six months and put back the deadline for the repayment of the loans by one year.

 

  • BGMEA president Rubana Huq says that meeting the scheduled repayments to the government-owned Bangladesh Bank from the end of this month - as agreed - would force many garment manufacturers out of business.





SEP 15 2020 UPDATES:


The situation of parent workers:


  • According to the parent daily labourers The Centre recently spoke to, they are still struggling to find work. Many of the parent workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic are trying to get their old jobs back or find new opportunities, but the situation is challenging. 

 

  • Due to the recent flooding in Bangladesh combined with the pandemic, food prices have risen, thus increasing the burden on already-struggling families. 


The situation of children:


  • 28 children received a full living stipend by the end of August 2020 to help cover basic necessities like food, educational materials and rent. 

 

  • A further 28 children received money from our COVID-19 emergency fund.

 

  • All children in our child labour remediation programme have resumed private tutoring, but official schools will remain shut until October 3rd according to a government announcement. 




AUGUST 24 2020 UPDATES:


The situation of parent workers: 


  • Parent workers we’ve spoken to are trying to get their old jobs back (in the cases where they’ve been laid off) or are looking for new jobs.

 

  • People across Bangladesh are still struggling with the dual challenge of COVID-19 and widespread flooding.


The situation of children and families:


  • 28 families are currently receiving a full monthly living stipend as part of a child labour remediation programme. This money is proving to be vital in helping families pay for essential goods.

 

  • 26 families are receiving financial assistance via a COVID-19 emergency fund that was set up by two German clothing brands and is being managed by The Centre. Read how the COVID-19 emergency fund provided crucial support to an injured former young worker in Vietnam here. 

 

  • All families we’ve been in touch with have been given information about government education initiatives and resources that families can avail of. 


Actions taken by The Centre:


We are continuing to deploy funding both from our child labour remediation programmes and COVID-19 emergency fund to support those with the greatest need. 




AUGUST 12 2020 UPDATES:


The situation at factories: 


  • By August 12th, the situation at the factories we are in touch with remains largely the same. The factories stated that their workers have become accustomed to the health and safety measures in place at the factories.

 

  • In terms of production challenges, the factories are still dealing with cancelled or frozen orders, lack of new orders and inability to mobilise the entire workforce. 


The situation of parent workers and children: 


Parent workers are continuing to face extreme difficulties due to income loss, reduced working hours and job instability. CCR CSR is continuing to deploy COVID-19 emergency funding to keep a number of families afloat and this funding has become the only source of income for several families. 




JULY 28 2020 UPDATES:


The situation at factories: 


  • As before, factories are still struggling with significantly reduced orders and are unable to operate with their full workforce

 

  • Factories have also reported challenges in guaranteeing the health and safety of their workers, and some have told us that it's extremely challenging to ensure social distancing due to the machine arrangement and limited space in the production areas.


The situation of parent workers and children: 


  • The following insights have been collected from 37 families and children who are currently taking part in The Centre’s child labour remediation programme: 

 

  • 73% of those involved in our child labour remediation programme have reported being impacted by COVID-19 as of July. Most of them have lost their jobs, while the others are only receiving partial salaries

 

  • Those who worked as daily labourers currently have no income

 

  • Some parents have told us that the onset of the rainy season in Bangladesh is adding to the challenges of COVID-19 and making the job search more difficult, as some have temporarily relocated to the countryside or village areas, which are susceptible to flooding

 

  • Some of the parents we spoke to are keen to return to work but are unable to find jobs

 

  • All the families are relying on the monthly living stipend given to them as part of the remediation programme to pay for basic necessities


Actions taken by The Centre:


  • 27 families are currently being supported by The Centre as part of our child labour remediation programme and COVID-19 emergency support.

 

  • Each of these families has received BDT 4000 from The Centre as emergency COVID-19 support.

 

  • All families with tuition fees due have been able to pay for the fees in full thanks to the emergency support. 




JULY 9 2020 UPDATES:


Actions taken by July 9, 2020:


  • The Centre has deployed an emergency fund to support families in our child labour remediation (CLR) programme who are in extreme hardship.

 

  • We are continuing to monitor the families in our CLR programme on a weekly basis and are giving children regular tips on how to access education resources to support them with homeschooling.

 

  • We adapted and are implementing an alternative Better Business for Children (BB4C) workplan from May 2020 until July 2020 and are in weekly contact with the programme factories.

 

  • We conducted 2 child labour prevention and remediation trainings that took the COVID-19 context into consideration. For example, we discussed the reasons why more underage workers may be hired during the pandemic, and highlighted the specific roles and responsibilities of factory HR to ensure a robust recruitment mechanism.

 

  • We delivered COVID-19 health kits to 10 families in Dhaka taking part in our child labour remediation programme and also shared awareness leaflets with them on health and safety.




JUNE 24 2020 UPDATES:


  • By June 23 2020, all but one factory interviewed has begun operating again

 

  • The factories reopened with an average of 50% to 100% of workers; 5/13 factories opened with full workforce 

 

  • By early June, the top 3 challenges identified by the factories were a large volume of orders cancelled or on hold, unable to resume production with the full workforce, and challenges in guaranteeing the health and safety of all workers


Published on 14/05/2021

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