Modern Civilization

Report on Educational Condition of the Street Children in Dhaka City

Report on Educational Condition of the Street Children in Dhaka City


Bangladesh is an over populated country in the world and also a poor country. It has more than 140 million peoples. Among them 55 million are fewer than 18. High urban population growth rate (over 6% p.a. for last two decades). Increased poverty in urban areas (out of Dhaka’s population of 9.3 million, an estimated 5 million are below the poverty line). 90% of the urban poor live in single room, very poor quality accommodation.  According to UNDP (2001) it is estimated number of street children in Bangladesh: 445,226 (of which 75% are in Dhaka city); 53% boys, 47% girls. All categories of street children are called Tokai (‘rag pickers’) by the general public, although they may be engaged in a range of petty trading / employment / criminal activities. Average daily income of street children is approx. USD $0.55.Another statistics estimated that there’s over 600,000 street children living in Bangladesh, 75% of these children live in capital city Dhaka. But the recent official study by the Appropriate Resources for Improving Street children Environment (ARISE- 2002) some 500000 children are living on street in the country’s main cities in Bangladesh and they warned that the number of the street children is set to  raise as the urban population grows by 9% a year.

1.1. Rights of Education for All Children

Constitution of Bangladesh has ensured the rights of the education for all children living in Bangladesh and also other international agencies and conventional highlighted the rights of education for global children. UN bodies i.e UNICEF, ILO, UNESCO work to provide education for all children in the world.


UNESCO in perspective – ‘Education for All’: The Dakar Framework of Action in the World Education Forum (April 2000) called for international commitment to respond to the rapid increase of children and youth at risk in the areas of early childhood care; access for all children (especially girls, children with special needs and marginalized youth) to primary education; learning needs and skills development; prevention of gender disparities in primary and secondary education; quality and measurable education.

Inability of educational finance for buying books, tuition fee, uniform, tutoring, etc. children have to work to help their parents. Children help with looking after their younger siblings so that their parents can work. Parents/patrons do not know about the procedures of enrolment. Parents do not realize the importance/benefit of long-term education. Parents do not know that their children have the right to study in a formal school. Children do not have legal papers (birth certificate, residence permit, etc.). Children cannot follow the learning speed of the class (slow student/ weak students) without support from school or teachers. In the commitment of the MGD by the government of Bangladesh and the education for all declaration, every children of the country would cover the education, especially primary education but the children living in street have no access of primary education in street life. In the recent years various NGOs supported by UNDP have run Non-formal education for the street children to ensure basic rights for their life. So the present researchers have endeavourer to explore the educational condition of the street children in DhakaCity.


The present study aims to investigate the educational condition of the street children in Dhaka city.


 For the study, the following objectives have been taken which are

  1. To find out the causes of drop-out of the children living in street.
  2. To explore the present educational opportunity and challenges of the street children in DhakaCity.
  3. To provide some recommendation for improving the educational condition of the street children.


The present study have been covered the street children living at Mottijeel and Subujbag thana in Dhaka city.


1. 5.1. Sample

A total 43 street children 5 NGO project personnel of different level have directly participated in the study.Children have drawn from the two thana of Dhaka city which are Motijhel and Shubujbagh and NGO personnel have selected from the two NGOs in Dhaka city that are working for street children especially in education. The following tables indicate the number of various sampling unit.              

 Table-1: Number of sampling unit by partners

Methods of data collection

Boy Children

Girl Children

NGO Personnel






Case Study







Key information Informants








1. 5.2. Sample Selection

In the study, sampled was selected through non-probability sampling procedures. Especially the accidental sampling procedure was followed because of the mobility and accessibility of the street children.     

1. 5.3. Source of Data

Method of data collection for study was based on both primary and secondary. For the primary data, the researcher has used various data collection tools including qualitative and quantitative method. In the study, secondary information was gathered from the publication, research findings, books, internet and so on.


For the research, primary data was collected by using various data collection methods which are field Observation, FGD, Case Study, Key Information Informants and Semi-structure Questionnaire.

1. 5.3.2. Primary Data collection methods:  Applied primary data collection methods of this study are briefly discussed in the following:

1. Field observation

Field visit of the lives of street children was carried out. During the visit the physical space and facilities, concern for physical safety and risk that are interrelated to children’s life and working condition was closely observed.

1. Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

 Focus Group Discussions were conducted with street children basically with the boys.   FGD with the children provided information on the various new issues, opportunities and threat factors related to cause of drop-our school and staying in street, educational facilities, challenges of living in street and dream of their life.

1. Case Study:  To understand the educational opportunities and challenges for the street children, the researcher has collected in-depth information to the children through case study.

1. Key informants interview

In the study process, key informants for in-depth interview included project personnel of the two NGOs name INCIDIN Bangladesh and Ayporajoya Bangladesh. Among others, these two NGOs are closed work with the children related to their education in street children.

 1. Semi-structure interview schedule

A semi-structure questionnaire was developed by the researcher with the assistance of supervisor to gather concise yet precise understanding of the educational condition of street children in Dhaka city.  It has 30 questions where some of questions are closed-ended and some are open-ended.


Educational condition: Educational condition means the opportunities and threats of the educational program for the street children.

Street children: The children living in street are considered as street children. The children have parents but their parents also live in street and the children have no parental guidance in the street level. Basically they live in drop-in-center or shelter home running by NGOs.


 Origins of street children

The existence of poverty within specific regions of a country is what Bar-On (1907) (as quoted by Young. 2004: 472) called ‘a micro-level crisis of poverty’ that debilitates family environments causing children to go onto the streets.  Children that turn to the streets share one common factor — namely, working the streets’ to make a living. This happens because households are unable to provide adequate living arrangements for their children.  There is, how ever, a world of difference between the ‘runaways’ or homeless youth found in developed countries and the ‘street children’ Sound in ‘third World countries. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origins of street children. One relates to urban poverty, a second relates to aberrant families (e.g., abandonment, abuse, or neglect), and a third is associated with modernization (Aptekar, 1988b).The process of becoming a street child has been well documented. Almost all street children begin their life on the streets by a gradual and predictable process. They leave home in a measured manner, at first staying away for a night or two and then gradually spending more time away from home (Aptekar, 1988b).However, not all studies support the poverty hypothesis. After interviewing 1,000 children on the streets in Bombay, Patel (1990) claimed the major reason for street children was not poverty but family violence. Another Indian study, this one of child porters (children under age 14 working and living without family support), showed that although poverty was a significant aspect of the children being on the streets, family discord was the major problem (Subrahmanyam & Sondhi, 1990).

Often studies cite more than one reason for the origins of street children. For example, the same study of Brazilian street children that found economic reasons to be the major reason for children being on the streets also noted that it was twice as common to have fathers absent from the homes of street children as it was to have fathers absent from those of the control group of poor working children (Rasa, de Sousa, & Ebrahim, 1992). Other studies have emphasized the deleterious effects of stepfathers who abuse their An analysis of the iife experiences of the street children in Bangladesh Chapter 2 stepchildren (Holinsteiner & Tacon, 1983; Tacon, 198 1 a, 198 1 b). De Pineda et al. ( 9781), after conducting a UNICEF-sponsored demographic study of street children in Colombia, estimated that slightly more than a third (36%) of the children left home because of poverty, 27% because of family breakdown, and another 20% because of physical abuse or neglect. In contrast to ‘runaways’. who mostly turn to the streets in sear ell of adventure, excitement or independence, the ‘street children’ of the ‘Third World turn to the streets as a result of neglect or abandonment (Kichter, I99 I ) .

 ‘The phenomenon of’ “street children’ in the third World compares favorably with Schurink’s (1993) definition of a street child:

“A street child is a boy or a girl or boy is under the age of 18 and who left his/her home environment. part time or permanently (because of problems at home and/or school, or try to alleviate those problems) and who spends most of his/her time unsupervised on the street as part of a subculture of children who live an unprotected communal life and who depend on themselves and on each other, and not on an adult for the provision of physical and emotional needs such as rood, clothing, nurturance, direction and socialization (.S churink, 1993: 5)”

 An overview of Street children in Bangladesh:

“Misplaced childhood”, a study of the RED BARNET, Danish Save the Children revealed

that street child are involved in the following work:

  • Street sex workers
  • Occasional workers at hotels, restaurants etc
  • Transport labours
  • Coolies
  • Workers in informal sectors
  • Rickshaw Pullers/ Van-driver etc
  • Tokai
  • Hawkers and others

The Government, NGOs and donor agencies have been concerned over the rapid growth of the child workers and they are looking to find ways and means to gradually and progressively eliminate child labor in Bangladesh.


Every research must have some limitations that might have influenced the out come. This study also has faced some limitations which were as follows:

  1. As a research, I think time constraints might causes of insufficient information.
  2. It has conducted in only capital city of Bangladesh and more over two thana area of Dhaka city had covered as sample areas. To judge the overall educational condition of the street, it is needed the more areas and sample.
  3. It has found by observation that street children some times hide the right information and they have shown hesitation to deliver proper information.
  4. The interaction with the street children is also a binding to collect data. As a researcher I think they have difficulties to believe the researcher and they are very much habituation to talk about their life and life experience rather than to provide information about educational condition.
  5. As a researcher, I faced difficulty to identity the actual age of the street children because they said so confusion information about the time or age.


In the study,  the researcher have attempted to understand the overall educational condition of the street children involving socio-economic condition, accessibilities and opportunities of education in street level, challenges and perception of the children about educational impact on their life. Both qualitative and qualitative data were collected by using various methods of data collection and data were analyzed by SPSS program. Findings of the research have been presented by percentage table, graphical representation and arithmetic mean.


To identify the socioeconomic background of the street children, the age, present working condition, income, source of income, staying condition at night, prenatal alive, profession and educational level have been considered in the present study.

Age of the street children:  In the research, the aged target of the street children was ranged 9-16 years. It has found from the table that about half of the boys’ raged between 12-14 years and more than two third of the girls’ ranged between 15-17 years. In the considering of the total sample, highest number of the street children’s age range is 12 and 14 years.  

Table-2: Percentage of age limits of the street children

Age Limits

Boy children (N=34)

Girl Children (N=9)


















Present working condition of the street children: The finding of the study suggested that highest street boys (29.41%) acted as Coolis in the railway or bus station to survive and    more than one fourth of the street boys (26.47%) have maintained their life to collect wastage called as ‘Tokai’. The children collected wastage paper and other wastage from the street and sold. It is another distinguished figure out that a significant number of the street children worked as ‘Newspaper Howker’ in the morning in city.  On the other hand girl street children earned money to sell flower, collected wastage called ‘Tokai’ and sexually exploitation in the street level.

Table-3: Percentage of profession of the street children

Working status

Boy children (N=34) %

Girl Children (N=9) %


News paper selling/flower




Occasional workers at hotels, restaurants, others







Workers in informal sectors






Sexually exploitation







Income level of the street children:  Through the some sort of hazardous and most harmful work, street children earn to poor to live. From the table -4 it has found that girl street children income thrice time more than their counterparts. Every day boys averagely income is 56 Tk. and girls is 134 Tk. The minimum the boys and girls were 20Tk and 40Tk. and maximum income of boys and girls were 100Tk. and 500Tk.  To conversation with employees, it has found that boy children income more what they said but they could not save it. They cost their money without any consideration. Girls some time earn money because they involve sexual activities by force.

 Table-4:  Mean income of the street children 


Boys (Per days, Tk).


Girls (per days, Tk.)











Unsafe night to the street children at street: It has seen form the table -5 that highest number boys (58.82%) and girls (50.00%) sleep at NGOs shelter home and street level respectively. More that one four of street boys sleep at railway or bus station and about 27.78 % street girls stay at night in NGOs shelter home . With the discussion of the children both boys and girls found that most of the children are abused sexually at night when they have been sleeping at unsafe place such as street or railway or bus station. Some time elder boys or local mastan kidnap girls to rap and threat them to kill if they would like to express the incident happened in their life. Even police also have abused physically and sexually for sake of protection to the children, they reported

Table-5: Percentage of sleeping at night of the street children

Sleeping place at night

Boy children (N=34)

Girl Children (N=9)


Sleeping street




NGO office




Bus or railway station








Condition of parental alive of the street children:

In the street level children live without parents and family but it has a reality is that most of the children both boys and girls have parents. About 11% and 27% children have lost their parents either father or mothers. It has also seen from the group discussion that most of the children have linkage with their family but they would not like to return their family. They identify some causes such as the freedom life in the street, poverty, physical and verbal abuse by their parents, and earning money.

Table-6: Percentage of alive of parents of the street children

 Alive the parents or not

Boys (%)


Girls (%)
















Profession of the parents of street children:

Street children in Dhaka city are migrated from various district of Bangladesh and they come to city for livelihood to their family or alone for a job.  With the discussion it has found that most of the children come from hard core families and the parents of their also work in various jobs that are sufficient to maintain their families. In the following box -1, the profession of the father and mother of the street children are given:

 Box- 1: Profession of parents

Father Profession

Mother profession

Don’t Know

Drug selling

Working in tea garden

Working in shop

 Working in industry

Having in small shop

Rolling industry


 Rickshaw puller


Don’t know

Work as maid servants

Work as rice mail

Breaking Brick

Mentally disorder

Working in tea garden

Working in sommitte


Garments factory

Educational qualification of parents: Most of the children have reported that they did not know the educational qualification of their parents. Only very few children have recognized the educational qualification of their parents. Among them SSC was the highest educational qualification of the children.


Dhaka city has been experiencing influx immigrants form the rural areas of Bangladesh, where unemployment, river erosion and social degradation have become chronic problems. As a consequence of the influx slum dwelling population has been increasing rapidly.  The slum children are second generation of street children. The children also migrants to Dhaka from various part of the country to work because the poverty, rivers erosion which could be said as push factors and other side is the demands of the child labour and work force, high standard living status that could be considered as pull factor.

Table- 7: percentage of the causes of being street children

Causes of Coming in Street








Father/ mother  beat me



Angry with parents


Abused by the steps mother





Broken family



Abused by the job owner


Abused by the step father


Marriage by forced






It has seen that most of the children are migrated from different district of the country either with family or single. Previous chapter shown that children living in street came from very poor families and the families of poor working parents agricultural labors, marginal farmers, day labors of informal sectors. Highest number of boy children (27.22%) and girl children (37.5%) reported that they are in street children because of poverty. Another highlighted reason of coming in street for boys (22.27%) is angry with their parents.

 A large number of street children reported that they are living in street because they are abused especially physical abused in their early childhood by their parents and it was more common response that the steps mother and father abused them.

 Another largest of the children came to street that they lived in a single parent’s families or families without parents or broken families.  Some of the children mentioned that they were missed in their early childhood and they could not identify their family address or parents.      


The street children in their early years are far from the safe, supportive environment that is  require to give them the best possible start in life. Besides threats from poverty, disease, violence and natural calamities, children face commercial exploitation by adults who deny them of their fundamental rights to protection. Social injustice and social exclusion pushes street children early to premature work thereby denying children the opportunity to acquire the education and skills they need to obtain decent work and incomes as adults.


It has found form the discussion with children that they have to accept bulling for living in the street by the adults, police, local mastan, drug seller and drug users and passerby also. Children have identified various types of difficulties such as fulfilling basic needs, physical, mental and sexual abuse and exploitation. They also highlighted the lack of accessibilities like bathing, toileting, education, and recreation. In the most cases, street children work in hazardous and dangerous jobs to survive in the street level. In the protection concern, children living in street have accused police to torture them.  Based on interview with the children, case study and FGD boy children have shown various problems in the street which are given in the following box (Box-2)

  Box-2: Difficulties faced by the street children

Younger boys (9 to 12 year old)

Older boys ( 13 to 17 years old )

      Police beats us

People want to sexually abused by forced and panic

Does not take food in very day

Local mastans beat us and use bad language(Bhokha dei)

In the rainy season, we do not have to sleep without wetting and winter season they have to fight with cold

Mosquitoes bite us when we sleep in the street.

Drug users in the street level take money from us by threaten.

We can not sleep with safe at night in railway station, over bridge, foot path and street also.

      Police beat us in day and night also when we sleep and works.

Unclean toilet and bathing facilities in the street.

Lack of medical facilities in the street level for us.

We do not take food regularly and nutrition food.

Fear for being involved in illegal and antisocial activities.

Lack of opportunities to keep our cloth and other necessaries of our life.

We have to live in street and other places without any things.

Lack of opportunities of any kind of recreation.

Highly chance of Physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.

People beat us to call ‘Tokai

In the gender perspective, girl children have very much vulnerable than boys and they have faced more difficulties and problems in street level.  Even they have very little protection to survive. In the following box (Box-3) the problem of the girl street children are shown:

The two boxes show the magnitudes and extend of the difficulties of street children in Dhaka city in regarding of sex of the children. It has found that the boy children highlighted to the problems of physical abuse by the local mastan, police and drug abusers or sellers, lack of opportunities to fulfill of basic needs and safe night in the street.  On the other hands, girl children emphasized much cruelties what they have to face in the street. Girls have identified such problems which are related to their personal and social dignity and worth. Girl street children   faced threat to sexual abuse, physical torture, eve teasing, leveling as social unaccepted children and lack of opportunities to fulfill basic needs also.

Girl Children

  • People try to touch and say very bad language
  • Local  Adult, boys or local mustan abuse sexually and try to rap
  • Boys eve tease us 
  • Police beat and some time abuse physically and sexually also.
  • Local pims push us to be a prostitute
  • There is no safe place to sleep and people always watch us in bad intension
  • People call us bad girl ( ‘Karap Maiya’)
  • Food, cloth, bathing and toileting problem


School drop-out is one of the fundamental problems of our education system and poverty is the main course.  It has found that more than 90% boys and 62% girls have been attend school before coming to street and only 9% boys and 37% girl did not go to school. All the enrolled children those are living in street as a result of drop-out educational system.

Table-8: Percentage of the children enrollment school before coming in street.

Sex of the children

Types of responses(N=30)

Yes (%)

No (%)

Boys  (N=22)



Girls (N=8)



With discussion of street children it has found that most of the children reported that they had to dropt out because they are poor and their parents were unable to afford the cost of education. Another point is also come from children that they would adjust with the schooling system. Even they would less enjoy their class in their early life.

It has also noticed form the discussion that very few did not go school and a reason for that is a large number of children reported that they were missing and they have no opportunities to go school when they have aged to go to school.

With the discussion of children, one of the girl said that education is less priority than work or income to our families because we are poor. “If we went to school we did not work and it would be very difficult to live for us.” In the way we came to Dhaka and unfortunately now we are living in street.


Children asked to the opportunities of education and the responses of the children have been shown table- 9. The table indicates that more than 90% boys and 87% girls have reported to have access of education in the street level through non-formal educational run by NGOs.

Table-9: Distribution of accessibilities of education in the street


Yes (%)

No (%)





87.5 (N=7)


Cent percent girls and about 87% boys attend NGOs schools.   The findings also suggested that a distinguish response found that 13.64% boys go to regular primary school with the support of NGOs.  With the discussion of the children it has also seen that they have interested to join mainstreaming school with other children but they have a little opportunity to attend primary school.

Table-10: Distribution of accessibilities of education in the street

Types of school

Boys (N=20)

Girls (N=7)

NGOs school



Govt. primary school





The street children are also working children so their schooling time would different to the mainstreaming children. The school time have to be adjusted to the working schedule to the children. So NGOs have planed to prepare their class routine to consult with the children so that their livelihood through working does not clash with their education.

 Table-11: Distribution of schedule of schooling

Schedule of schooling

Boys (N=20)

Girls (N=7)

Jhokhon Tokhon 


In the morning






Table-11 shows that cent percent of the street girls attend class at afternoon and 40% of boys attend JhokhonTokhonSchool 25% boys after noon school and 35% boys evening school. JhokhonTokhonSchool is a new concept for street children. Every child has to rights to education so school time might be adjusted to the working children in street.  Children attend any time of the day to read and the teaching staffs of the concern NGOs always ready to teach the street children in a certain place or shelter home or drop-in-center.  

Table-12: Distribution of attitude toward the school system


Boys (N=20)

Girls (N=7)

Very Good








Very bad




All the educational material such as books, khata, pencile, pen and other has been provided by the NGOsThree fourth of street boys and cent percent of girls have positive attitude toward NGOs school and only 25%boys have some sort of negative attitude toward the present  NGOs school system. In the response of positive attitude toward present school system run by NGOs, children highlighted that they get food after reading or get food with a very lower cost, have access to enjoyment through playing different games and sport, drawing, watching movies and opportunities of resting facilities. On the other hand, few of the street children said that they do not feel good to attend the school in street due to more pressure by the teachers and tide schedule of the class.


It has recognized that there are a lot of challenges regarding education for street children and in the study aimed to explore that challenges. The researcher has attempted to identify the challenges emphasized both children side and organizers sides. Most of the children have reported the following statements:

  • They feel very weak when they attend  to read in school
  •  For abusive and exploitative condition of street, children have to move one place another place so they could not follow the schedule of school every day.
  • Most of the day they could not recognized the previous day’s activities
  • Inadequate schools for the children so that they could not access to attend for limited sits of that schools.

In the concern personnel of the NGOs have some observation about the challenges to teach the street children which are given below:

  • Mobility of the street children is very high so they can not maintain the daily schedule of school.
  •   Drop-out and irregularity of school to the street children is a common problem so that the continuity of structure could not follow.
  • Street children have been shown exhausted when they are in school or reading as a result they could not attention to their reading or writing.
  • Some of the children feel hungry when they are in school so it very difficult to teach them.
  • Children have shown very much interest to sports, games and enjoyment rather than education


Education is the basic tools to develop a human and as a citizen of Bangladesh, the disadvantage and vulnerable street children have little access of education through out the existing educational system. Some of NGOs have take initiatives to provide education through non-formal education which is very inadequate in comparison to the quantity of the street children in Dhaka city. But the street children have acknowledged the importance of education in their future life.  They identified that without education they could not changes their present exploitative condition and as a rights holder, education would be tool to achieve their citizen rights and make responsible them to their duties to the state.  In the following box-4, the impact of education to their life and live are show

 Box-4 Perception of children toward education in their life

Boys perception

Girls perception

  • To be a rich man
  • To get a good job
  • Can do a good thing for society and family
  • For increasing my intelligent
  • Read newspaper
  • Knowledge will increase
  • Can read name and write and  read  novel also
  • Counting
  • Can read address
  • For business education must necessary
  • No one can said illiterate
  • No one cheat with me
  • Fulfill parents expectation
  • Can learn
  • To be rich people
  • To be a good person
  • Act as rights holders
  • Know many things
  • No one cheat with me
  • Get a high profile job
  • Increase my knowledge



Street children problem in Bangladesh are social phenomena which also be given importance to enhance social and economical justice and equity.  Education is the rights of all children in regarding sex, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, minority, disadvantage, disability etc. For ensuring the rights of education of the street children, the attempts taken by the government are so far beyond. A total 43 street children and 5 NGOs personnel has participated the study and both primary and secondary data collection methods were used.   Education should be ensured to the street children by considering the socioeconomic status, providing safe night, fulfilling basic needs, protection form physical, mental and sexual abuse and exploitation. The accessibility of education for the children would be integral part of the society through creating opportunities to enter mainstreaming educational system in Bangladesh.  The findings of the study would help to policy maker, educationist, and NGOs to plan and implement the educational system for the street children in Bangladesh.


Above discussion and analysis of the results, it could be recommended some suggestions for future direction about the education accessibility for the street children those are part of our society.

  1. Street children in Dhaka city are migrated and they are drop-out form mainstreaming children either poverty or other reasons. So the Compulsory Primary Education Act has to be implemented properly.
  2. Boys children are very much frequent than girls in the street and families of the poor considered the boys children as a sources of income so in the primary level both boys and girls could be covered the scholarship or stipend  program.
  3. Street children are very much moving with in the city so there is a mechanism would be developed to protect their mobility to providing food, resident and other basic needs.
  4. Children are very much interested to enjoyment and games and sports also. For the street children, recreational facilities have to be parted for education.
  5. All the street children those are attending school covers by the Non-formal education by the NGOs but they have to be mainstreamed through enrollment of government primary educating and imparting technical and vocational training opportunities.
  6. Education is rights for very children so that education of the street children might be ensured through out various governmental and non-governmental initiatives such as educational program.
  7. Educational program for the street children have been implemented by the government primary school where the street children operate frequently through providing the safe night shelter.