DHAKA, Mar 20, 2018 (BSS/UNICEF FEATURE) - Despite poor family background, Shakil did not face any crisis of money during his admission to higher secondary level because he had enough savings in bank, thanks the central bank for its special bank accounts services for street and working children.
Like Shakil, many other working children are getting similar benefits through depositing money at their accounts for street and working children, an initiative of Bangladesh Bank to bring street child workers under institutional financial support.
"I worked at a grocery from my childhood as I came from a broken family and lived with my mother, a brother and a sister. First three years, I deposited money in a non-governmental organization (NGO)," said M Shakil Hossain, while expressing his gratitude to the government for bringing them under banking services.
Later, he started depositing money in Rupali Bank from 2014 by opening a bank account. Every day, he deposited Taka 20 to 30.
After passing SSC examination, he said, "I withdrew Taka 3,500 and admitted to HSC in Gulshan Commerce College."
"Moreover, I withdrew Taka 4,000 for bearing expenses of shifting my family to my village home," he added. Shuki Akther, a class VI student, is also cherishing a dream to do something in future for her and her poor family as she is also depositing Taka 20 every week in an account in Rupali Bank.
"I am working as a domestic help in a house. From my income, I deposit money in the bank account. I want to do something for my family," she added.
Talking to BSS, Rupali Bank Managing Director M Ataur Rahman Prodhan said street children are progressively taking to the idea of keeping their hard- earned income in a bank and their deposits in these special accounts have already crossed Taka 27 lakh.
As of December, the accounts held by street children had a total balance of Taka 27.11 lakh in 18 commercial banks through 14 NGOs and the total number of accounts was 4,544.
In 2014, BB rolled out a bank account programme for street and working children under the central bank's financial inclusion drive.
The account needs to be opened under the guarantee of NGOs and enjoys a good compound interest rate with an initial deposit of only Taka 10. Street children do not bear any fees for maintaining the accounts. Accountholders do not get the online banking facility and are not given debit cards.
All street children who live and work in railway stations, bus and ferry terminals, slums and footpaths will be allowed to open the accounts.
Ataur Rahman Prodhan said the initiative has been taken for the street children to help develop saving habits among them, and to reduce the trend of their derailment from the right path by protecting their greater interest.
He said the NGOs should take the overall responsibility of operating the accounts until the street children and the child workers reach the age of 18 years. The NGOs and the banks concerned will sign agreements to operate the accounts, he added.
Fourteen NGOs have so far tied up with banks to open bank accounts for street children. The NGOs are - MASAS, SEF, Uddipan, Aparajeyo Bangladesh, Brac, Nari Maitree, CPD, Prodipan, Sajida Foundation, ASD, Shakti Vidyalaya, EBCR Prakalpa, Gash Ful and Poriborton.
Eighteen banks have signed up for the programme: Sonali, Janata, Rupali, Agrani, Krishi, Bangladesh Development Bank, Bank Asia, Mercantile, Mutual Trust Bank, National, Social Islami, ONE, Pubali, City, Trust, Al-Arafah Islami, Uttara and Prime.
Rupali Bank is the best performer to open bank accounts and deposits as the bank has opened 974 accounts and deposited Taka 7.76 lakh through three NGOs.
Rupali Bank Nayatola Branch Manager Mohammed Abbas Uddin said the central bank has taken the initiative to bring more street children under banking services.
"A total of 223 accounts have already been opened in my branch. The accounts holder is taking all services free of cost," he added.
He said the financial inclusion programme is helping the children develop themselves for future and the banks are supporting the children so they can enjoy banking services.