Survey points out 82% children out of school

  • Dr Asma Khalid says students facing multiple challenges including sexual harassment
  • Out of school children mostly wandering in streets, picking garbage, labour and domestic work

ISLAMABAD: Around 82 percent children in the federal capital are out of school, which raised many questions over the government’s claims to provide education to the children, according to a survey conducted by the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD).

The survey revealed that 82.6 percent children from age 5 to 16 were out of school due to different reasons. The commission is a wing of the Ministry of Human Rights. The basic objective of the survey is to find out the number of out of school children as well as drop out children and to determine the reasons and their activities, the survey report said.

According to the survey report, conducted in around 1754 houses and slums areas in the capital and it was found that 82.6 remained out of school or dropped out. The survey was conducted in capital’s slums, recognised by the Capital Development Authority, includes Muslim Colony, 100 Quarters, 48 Quarters, 66 Quarters, Faisal Colony, Palan Khait, Christian Colony, Hansa Colony, J Salik Colony, Maskeen Colony, Essa Nagri, Katchi Abadi, Alama Iqbal Town, Meher Abadi and Afghan Abadi (H-13).

Similarly, the rural areas were also covered including six union councils of Humak Town, one UC of Noon Katchi Abadis, three UCs of Alipur Farash, six UCs of Sohan and their adjacent areas. The data was collected through different sources of contacts, key informants, community leaders, teachers and others.

The survey pointed out many reasons of this alarming figure in the capital where legislators remained busy in legislation while promising to provide education to the children. The main reasons were lack of interest, lack of job opportunities, cultural constraints, parental negligence, migration, children with disabilities, absence of B-Form/birth registration, lack of awareness and poverty.

“Major activities of the out of school children are peers, wandering in the streets, picking garbage, working at auto-workshops, tailoring and hair cutting, labour work, domestic workers,” the report said. According to the survey report, reasons of drop out was behavior or corporal punishment, lack of facilities, lack of school infrastructure and lack of safe environment.

The report recommended database of the out of school children. The Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) may devise a plan for formal education of children (5-16 years). NCHD may devise an action plan for the out of the school children for non-formal education, the report recommended.

Under the ICT Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2012, education advisory councils may be activated to ensure that every child in the area is attending school. Vocational training may be integrated with non-formal education and Parents-Teachers Association may also be re-activated.

Financial assistance may be provided to the marginalised families through the Benazir Income Support Programme and the Pakistan Baitul-Mal. An effective monitoring mechanism is required to be established for effective implementation, the report said. All stakeholders may chalk out their areas of activities so problem could be finished, it said.

An inter-agency protocol has been devised by this ministry to ensure effective coordination among the stakeholders. Similarly, the report suggested that a coordinating committee to be constituted to monitor implementation of the recommendations of the studies.

Dr Asma Khalid, assistant professor of the public administration at the Fatima Jinnah Women University, termed the figure of the out of school children was alarming. “This is an alarming situation in Islamabad, what will be a situation in other provinces,” said Dr Asma, who believes that the students are facing multiple challenges while going to school especially sexual harassment in slum and rural areas.

She explained that the survey was conducted in two phases first selective houses were covered in rural areas and then slums were covered. She said that the national commission sought help of the students of the Fatima Jinnah Women University. She suggested the Ministry of Human Rights should monitor the schools.