It is estimated that around ten million children in Pakistan are engaged in employment in one form or another, according to details collected by a local NGO. On the occasion of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) World Day against Child Labour, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) has said that one of the reasons for the rising number of child workers is that the incomes of the parents are not enough to make ends meet. This forces parents to send their children to work despite their own reservations at this. However, child labour is only one issue before us. Other indicators paint an equally grim picture. Some 23 million children of school-going age are out of school. It is believed that the drop-out ratio in primary schools of Pakistan is 50 per cent, which is possibly on of the highest in the entire world. This means that children are not studying, possibly being pushed to work owing to rising prices in the country.
Given such startling statistics, one is puzzled as to why the government is not doing enough to address the problem. There is little funding available for supporting families to send their children to school. Almost nothing is spent to encourage children to complete their education. What is spent usually comes from international donor agencies and education usually is never a priority for provincial governments. This is an area where the political government has to do more. Pakistani children need to go to school so that they can move towards professional qualifications. More needs to be done to encourage vocational training and make employers support such programmes. However, the larger picture cannot be ignored. Despite the tall claims of successive governments, more needs to be done to support lower income households. The rise in inflation will push many into poverty. Some sort of social protection system should be in place so that these households do not suffer needlessly. We need to change the priorities of our government’s spending policies.
Source: The News