Bangladesh Birth registrations 11% higher than total population
The number of birth registrations in the country has far exceeded the number of population that was found by the latest national census in 2011.
As of September this year, the government had registered 16.72 crore births, around 11.69% higher than the 14.97 crore population enumerated by the adjusted results of the Population and Housing Census 2011.
Calculating the population growth rate, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics website estimates the current population at 15.76 crore – which is still lower than the total registered births.
The largest spikes in birth registration trends come during the months when schools admit new students, different sources said, adding that although the total average daily birth registrations stand at around 80,000; the number almost quadruples during the school-admission season.
Senior officials of the birth registration project told the Dhaka Tribune that a large number of the population still remained out of the registration process, even though the registered births had already exceeded the original population by more than two crore.
Sources at the project also said that out of the total registered births, around 11.93 crore have been registered digitally and rest have been manually hand-written.
One can register births or deaths at their area’s respective offices concerned: zonal offices in city corporations, municipality offices or any digital centres at the union level.
“It is only a question of honesty. And there is no way to deny that a huge number of people have registered [births] twice or thrice as per their wish,” AKM Saiful Islam Chowdhury, project director of the Birth and Death Registration Project, told the Dhaka Tribune recently.
The situation had not improved despite introducing different protective measures against the practice of multiple registrations, he said.
“If we can establish an honest nation, only then can we claim that these numbers are correct,” Saiful added.
During an international conference in Switzerland this month, foreign participants laughed on hearing that Bangladesh had more birth registrations than actual population, Saiful told the Dhaka Tribune.
Abdul Mannan Kottal, a birth and death registration assistant of zone 4 (Mirpur) under Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), claimed that during November and the first half of December, his office had issued over a hundred birth certificates a day, although the average daily number was never more than 20.
Contacting different union digital centres, the Dhaka Tribune also found a similar picture.
Farzana Bobby Nadira, a digital centre entrepreneur from Konabari union in Jhalokati, said the numbers increased during the school-admission season as the authorities had made birth certificates mandatory to ensure a seat in schools.
Sources said parents also manipulated their children’s age just before the registration for Junior School Certificate (JSC) examination in February-March.
“Most of the guardians want to ensure that their children pass the SSC exam at around 15 years as it is the minimum age limit for the exam. To ensure that, they are frequently manipulating the students’ age at JSC-level,” Nadira told the Dhaka Tribune over phone.
According to the existing regulations, nobody can change their age after JSC.
Saiful, the birth registration project director, said this was the main reason behind the number of birth registrations being higher than the actual population.
“We have recommended the Education Ministry to fix the minimum SSC examination age level at 16 years; but they fixed it at 15, which is a problem,” he added.
A birth registrar from the DNCC’s zone 3 told the Dhaka Tribune that different age requirements by separate schools also prompted parents to create several birth certificate for the same person.
“Viqarunnisa Noon School, a renowned girls’ school in the capital, requires the age to be six plus [for first grade admission seekers]; while another famous school Holy Cross requires five-and-half to six-and-half for the same class. To fulfil requirements of both schools, guardians collect two different birth certificates,” the official added.
Acknowledging the problem, Project Director Saiful said directives have already been issued to all the city corporations, municipalities and union parishads to ensure birth registration within 45 days of every childbirth.
However, an official count shows that out of over 1.09 crore infants born from September 2011 to September 2014, only 83,020 have been registered within 45 days of birth.
In parliament recently, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam was asked by ruling party lawmaker Mouazzem Hossain Ratan on how the birth registrations had exceeded the current population. However, Ratan did not find a chance to get any supplementary question.
“It is a simply unbelievable number, and with this number we cannot take any effective decision,” said Ratan, when the Dhaka Tribune contacted him recently.
Meanwhile, mentioning another reason behind the disparity of numbers, registration project chief Saiful said people who had registered births were not aware of the necessity to register deaths, causing the gap between the registrations and population.
The existing birth and death registration act was passed in the parliament on December 7, 2004, but came into effect on July 3, 2006.
But before that, with active support of Unicef, the government started the Birth and Death Registration Project in 2001 under the Local Government Division. Its first phase lasted during 2001-2006, second phase during 2007-2011, while the third phase was now ongoing.Courtesy: http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2014/dec/20/birth-registrations-11-higher-total-population#sthash.NhC13PWP.dpuf