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Millions of kids still out of school in Malala’s Pakistan

Jul 29, 2013

According to a report, out of 120 countries in the world, Pakistan has the second largest number of children out of school (after Nigeria).

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the UN in New York calling for “free, compulsory education all over the world for every child” is a reminder that back in her home country several million children are out of school, exploited for their labour, and/or abused.

The most recent annual State of Pakistan’s Children report, published in May by the Islamabad-based NGO Society for the Protection and Rights of the Child (SPARC), found that out of 120 countries in the world, Pakistan has the second largest number of children out of school (after Nigeria), with 5.1 million children aged 5-9 not attending an educational institution.

“Education is vital for our future. Only when they read can they research, think and do something for the nation. Without education in its true sense there is no hope for this,” said Basarat Kazim, president of the Lahore-based NGO Alif Laila Book Bus Society which campaigns for education, literacy and modernization in the education sector.

A significant number of these children end up in the workplace.

“Child labour is a highly accepted social norm from a very young age for both girls and boys,” said Smaranda Popa, the chief of child protection at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Pakistan. “These children are not only denied access to their rights to education, protection, health and development but are also highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.”

Figures on the precise number of child workers are somewhat uncertain, with estimates ranging from 3.3 million, according to a 1996 figure from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, to 12 million, according to more recent estimates by media reports and NGOs. The International Labour Organization estimates one quarter of these children are involved in the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, commercial sexual exploitation of children, using children to commit a crime, and work that is harmful to the “health, safety or morals” of children.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in its 2010-11 Labour Force Survey puts the number of child workers at just 4.29 percent of the country’s children aged 10-14, in other words 855,426 of the 19.94 million children in that age range, according to 2011 figures from the government’s Economic Survey.

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SOURCE: IRIN

 

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