Child Labour project

Child labour is a major issue in most of the least developed and developing countries in the world and Bangladesh is no exception.

Instead of going to school and enjoying  their childhood, many children are made to work to support their families and for their own livelihood.  Despite it being against the law to employ children to work underneath cars, strip paint, weld metal, empty batteries and many other dangerous tasks, over 1.2m children are employed in this way across Bangladesh. These children work for 14 hours a day in appalling conditions for no or low pay, they are routinely ill and frequently injured.

Current activity

Following a baseline study that revealed that 3,000 children are employed in hazardous jobs in Sylhet City, UKBET initiated a pilot programme which inludes the following activites:

  • We persuade children’s employers to work with us setting up Centres for Working Children and to release children to attend three  times a week. 80 children on average attend each Centre. Centres have a 4 year life.
  • In the Centres we teach the children literacy and numeracy skills and basic hygiene, we give them food and clothes and time to enjoy themselves.
  • We meet with their parents and talk to them about the risks their children are exposed to and the benefits of sending them to school. We refer parents to other NGOs who can help them gain employment and support their families. And we run programmes for the siblings of working children who are not yet in school or work.
  • We run medical clinics in the Centres for children and their parents with volunteer doctors and free medicine.
  •  And we provide health and safety training for the employers providing simple but essential equipment (masks, gloves, First Aid boxes etc).

At the outset of the programme we were uncertain whether a small Trust such as UKBET could make much of a difference. But nearly 5 years on we now have no doubt about the significant benefits and impact that UKBET’s programme is delivering. We have already enaged 700 children in this project and withdrawn around 250 children from hazardous works.


300 children regularly attend one of the 4 Centres for Working Children opened across Sylhet and more than two thirds can read and write.

All children have had their births registered.

  • An agreement with a major vocational training centre has resulted in the first batch of children progressing to full time vocational training.
  • The Medical Camps have proved hugely popular with parents and children.
  • The numbers of accidents and illnesses in workplaces has reduced significantly.
  • Not one sibling has followed their older brother into work.
  • Employers are using the safety equipment we have given them and are talking openly about stopping employing children.

We plan to cascade this model more widely in the future. If you would like to support our Child Labour project or get involved, please do get in touch.