Bangladesh has experienced massive urbanisation in the last few decades with a staggering growth of seven millions slum dwellers. About two million people live in the slums of Dhaka city. Most of the slums lack basic facilities for childhood development due to inadequate social security raised by gender violence and discrimination in family as well as community plus prevalence of domestic violence is higher in slums along with gender discrimination and violence against women and children (VAWC). As a result, physical, social and cognitive development of the children is hampered and which is neglected or undermined unexpectedly. Considering these issues, Gender Justice and Diversity (GJD) programme of BRAC has taken up an initiative to implement Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme named as SNEHALOY at the selected slums in Dhaka city.
We conducted a baseline survey aiming to two core objectives in the assessment: evaluate the existing stage of early childhood development (ECD) including physical, social and cognitive development of poor children in slums; and to assess the present knowledge and perception of violence and discrimination against women and children in the slum community. The study predominantly used quantitative method by taking consideration of describing issues included in the survey questionnaire. Different question sets had been used to collect data from different stakeholders.
For the purpose of the study, over 1541 households in 11 slums had been surveyed purposively bearing targeted group of children, total number of 1578 children aged between 6 months to 48 months. In brief findings, the function of ECD had divided into four age groups such as 6-12 months, 13-24 months, 25-36 months and 37-48 months. In each of the age group there were three different development processes like physical, social and cognitive development of a child to be assessed. In this regard, social development of child at all stages was satisfactory, but physical and cognitive development of the children was not same at all stages of their development. One significant observation was that the study found the same assessment of development for physical, social and cognitive development of the children aged between 25 to 36 months. Cognitive development of the children was not found satisfactory at all stages except for the children aged 25 to 36 months. However, there were several dimensions of domestic violence and gender discrimination that had been found in the slum community and which were significantly responsible for cognitive development at different stages of a child growth. In assessing knowledge level on discriminatory issues between wives and husbands, the wives had received average knowledge score 40% which was higher than their counterpart (37%). Likewise the violence issues, the wives had received average knowledge score 82% which was lower than their counterpart (84%). On the other hand, in assessing perception level on discriminatory issues between wives and husbands, the wives had received average perception score 52% which was lower than their counterpart (54%). Likewise the perception of violence issues, the wives had received average score 69% which was higher than their counterpart (67%). That means, the household level was found with a greater concern to the violence issues rather than the discriminatory issues among male and female members. However, a path towards gender innovations of the community people had been explored in the child development and the overall strategies for child development was supported by the study findings.