Dr Ghulam Ashraf's Blog


Trapped in child labour

It is evident that we need that we need to do better from the fact that child labour in Pakistan is still permissible and widespread. –Photo by AFP
Pakistan has not conducted a comprehensive national child labour survey since 1996 when 3.3 million of our then 40 million children were found to be economically active on a full-time basis.

Our child population today is 70 million and one civil society organisation has estimated the number of child labourers to be between 11 million and 12 million. Even without hard statistics, the fact that children, instead of being at school, work as domestic help and in auto repair shops, tea shops, etc., is a matter of grave concern. In fact, many child labourers are in hazardous occupations. They work in stone quarries, coal mines, factories, etc. — despite a national policy calling for the immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

Several laws to eliminate child labour have been passed. Under the National Policy and Plan of Action, specific programmes have been implemented to address issues of children working in various sectors, including the soccer ball, surgical instruments and leather-tanning industries.

At the same time, projects have also been launched to improve school enrolment. However, that we need to do better is evident from the fact that child labour is still permissible and widespread. As a recent ILO report on the subject advocates, we need to renew and re-energise the commitment and conviction with which we initially launched the campaign against child labour. Anti-child labour measures should include plugging the loopholes in the relevant laws as well as increasing child-labour interventions, which have largely remained small-scale projects. Central to tackling this scourge are poverty-alleviation measures and a commitment to free and quality education. The latter means that the government must prioritise education through the adequate and judicious use of funds. Otherwise millions of our children will continue to be kept out of school and trapped in labour.

Source: Dawn News


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