Child Labor: Underage Workers

By Farhan Jumani

Every day, in a way to work, I see many children on the street of Karachi. They are engaged in selling flowers, toys, cold water, cleaning the front mirrors of the cars in order to earn few pennies for self-survival and support to their families.

Child labor is a global issue, in the developing countries this is a key issue. In Pakistan alone more than 10 million children are engaged in child labor and reports say out of which 300,000 are in Sindh.

Child labor according to the International Labor Organization convention 138 and 182, children below the age of 12 working in any economic activity or children 12-14 years old engaged in more than light work which harms to their education. In Pakistan according to the Employment of Children Act, 14 year child will also consider as child labor.

One can easily identify the age of children roaming on the streets of Karachi are between six to 15 years. They are subject to child labor for many reasons. They mainly belonged to large sized families who live under the ultra poverty level. Their parents are absolutely uneducated and unskilled and they are unable to earn sufficient amount to raise their children.

There are hundreds of laws and institutions working on this issue but unable to achieve the desired results. In order to cater to this issue and turn these young souls into the productive members of society the partnership approach is required between the civil society, NGOs, government and most importantly the Media whose role is pivotal. It can play its role by spreading public service messages through online broadcasting.

Due to the extreme poverty coupled with no sense of education, they not enroll their children in schools and this has particularly increased the child labor. In order to wipe these iniquity authorities need to reach to every section of society with the help of other institutions and make sure each and every child has access to education and safe environment.

It is a dire time to think about the up liftmen of the street child, because they are the one who in their later years involved in criminal activities and other social evils.

The Sindh government should recognize the Child protection bill as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial Assembly has adopted the bill. This ensures the future of the child and creates the safe environment where they have full rights.

The child’s rights movements should urge government, civil society and schools to take care of the child rights. The schools can adopt the inclusive approach in the class of 25 students; five students in each class can sit free to take education. The evening programs should be designed for them to educate these children. The other institutions can also come up with effective steps for improving the state of children’s rights in the city.

It is a dire time for the concerned authorities to develop an action plan for the implementation of the child rights in the city, the increase in resource allocation for education, good health care. In fact for the adult education child right should be given space in the curriculum of all the professional training colleges and universities. A separate child ministry should be established. These are some suggestions offered. The institutions should reflect and come up with more strategies and solutions, which can help in reducing these problems and challenges faced by the children of our city. They are the future of our society. We need to save their future.

The writer is an educator. Write to him at  farhanjumani@gmail.com

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