Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of companies targeting children should not be a charity or philanthropy; it should rather focus on their long-term development, said speakers at a roundtable in the capital yesterday.
They made the observation at the roundtable on formulating national CSR policy for children at The Daily Star Centre. The Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Save the Children's Education for Youth Empowerment (EYE) programme jointly organised the discussion.
Emranul Hoque Chowdhury, chairman of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, said they were not being able to guide CSR for the benefit of children in the absence of a much-needed policy.
Shahida Begum, programme director of EYE, said, “Very few of the children finishing school have marketable skills that will help them acquire decent employment.”
“In addition, most schools follow a centralised timetable that makes it difficult for working children to attend schools, and they ultimately end up in hazardous jobs,” she added.
Speakers observed that the corporations could think about investing in vocational trainings and apprenticeships.
The initiative will keep the children out of risky labour, said Shahamin S Zaman, chief executive officer of CSR Centre.
Shamim Ul Huq, president of Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “I do not like the phrase 'employing children'. It should be designed in such a way that it becomes an investment in their future.”
The law allows all children between 14 and 18 years of age to work for five hours a day, and CSR should take advantage of it, said Mikhail Shipar, secretary to the ministry of labour and employment.
Mujibul Haque, state minister for labour and employment, among others, spoke.