Author: Sher Jan Shohaz
How does one feel when his/her constitutional right is sold to him or her? Making education far beyond reach of majority, in a country where earning for one-day provision is suggestive of winning a competition of the day, is an acute discrimination against effete literacy ratio in the country that sadly stands at approximately 62.3, individual strength and constitutional rights.
Since the government-run institutions in the country have failed to produce a satisfactory outcome of positive schooling, privatization has become a deep-rooted culture where making money to many spreading advertisements of providing private schooling is the fleet-footed way of becoming popular and the moneyed in the state. Due to constant failures of public-sector institutions, parents all across the country without putting questions on the fee structure and price tag of other expanse of the private-sector institutions, are absorbed tolerating every bit of scholastic expenses.
The privatization of the institutions is one of the prime reasons in increase of child labour in Pakistan where many children belonging to middle class families find education a high-priced tool to have.
There’s no doubt that If one goes experiencing flashback of ancient and modern history of developed nations’ maturation, there always remains a spotlight envising the extremity of education. The world we see in progress today, was the world considered education a birthright in past spreading to all its citizens.
However, Pakistan breaths in slough of despod where running with other Asian countries and rest developed ones, is just a hope limited in journalistic images and perspectives rather having valued in experimental practices of officials and documented power.
Furthermore, the state witnesses a huge number of children declared school not-going. The children who have turned labourers at the age of 10 and 12, leave us at the state of guilt and repentance after few years pass. It’s always pleasant to acknowledge that Article 25-A of Constitution of Pakistan obligates the state to provide free and compulsory quality education to children of the age group 5 to 16 years. Similarly, Article 11 of the Constitution states that “no child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment”.
It’s shocking to acknowledge that a large number of children in Pakistan still constitute a significant part of the labour force. Legislation relating to child employment are still not aligned with Article 25-A of the Constitution which gives each child a right to education and the employment of children remains unaddressed, particularly in sectors like agriculture, small car workshops, shops, hotels, factories, cinemas, vending on the streets, the fishing industry, mining, brick kilns, weaving, bracelet making, packing and construction etc.
The Child Rights Movement (CRM) Sindh, in collaboration with DevCon Karachi and the Civil Society Support Programme (CSSP), organised a seminar in connection with World Day Against Child Labour last year. Participants at a seminar pronounced Pakistan afterMauritania and Haiti, is third ranked country with the highest prevalence of child labour and forced labour despite the fact that a significant decline in the number of child labourers has been recorded worldwide. According to the International Labour Organisation, the overall number of child labourers declined from 200 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2014.
Pakistan has twenty provincial and federal laws against child labour. The country is, however, a party to some international conventions related to child labour: Minimum Age Convention (C138), 1973; Worst Form of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (C182); Domestic Workers Convention (C 189) 2011; and SAARC Convention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution (2002). Pakistan also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to promote and protect children’s rights in Pakistan under the umbrella of UNCRC.
In spite of all these commitments, the country has 22.5 million out-of-school children in which around 10 million children are in labourer; 47 percent are children who are 5 to 11 years old; 28 percent are 12 to 14 years old, and 25 percent are 15 to 18 years old. Almost 70.9 percent of children are employed in the agriculture sector, 11.9 percent in factories, and 17.2 percent in other informal occupations.
Saleem; a resident of Khuzdar, Balochistan, Pakistan, after running out of financial support, had the only option to quit his education and let himself to provide support to the rest of the family members by joining a puncture shop.”I worked for two years as a bus conductor after I had done my matriculation in 2007. The money I earned within two years, turned my enthusiasm burning to seek admission in a college for higher education but due to some familial unexpected calls for immediate need of money, I had to postpone plans.” Said Saleem.
“People who came to me at my shop made fun of mine as they had the knowledge about what had wished to become. I always had a dream to become a lawyer to do something for my country. I want to help all those who have been in the locus of injustice.” added Saleem.
There is an emerging consensus that if the list of out-of-school children goes added, the country confronts several issues deeply from now on in such as poverty, sciolism, larceny, street-begging, unemployment, barbarism, fraudulent acts and many more.
Umer; a fifteen-year old child from Dasht, Dist Kech, Balochistan, works with his father in their field at Dasht. He after doing his primary education from his own town named Ball-Nigwer started working in the field. “I wanted Umer to become a doctor to treat our people of Ball-Nigwer. But, due to financial burdens, I couldn’t manage him to study further after doing his primary.” told Umer’s Father; Hasil.
Umer always dreamed of becoming a doctor to serve his nation. He said that going in school required him uniform and shoes which he couldn’t afford and had to quiet his education. “seeing my friends in the morning while going to school, always rejuvenates my wish of going in school. I welcome my mornings in the field with my father grazing goats watering cows. It’s peaceful.” Added Umer.
This majority of children being off from school, will economically weaken the country. Being in school for one of them, would bring a year of peaceful happiness. The state should never forget providing education to the every child of the country free as she in her constitutions claims to endow.
The writer is a freelance columnist from Turbat, Balochistan and is currently a teacher at the School of Intensive Teaching.