Children’s Day is celebrated with great pomp and show across Pakistan. Different schools and organizations are seen initiating various competitions and awarding outstanding students. There are special offers for kids in Shopping malls, theatres and amusement parks. Parents are seen pampering their kids by fulfilling their wishes for the Day.
If we look around, we find another lot of children engaged in various occupations to earn a little bit of money for themselves as well as to maintain their respective families in a hand to mouth existence. Some little children have to bear the entire responsibility of providing meals and other necessities to their parents and families. In garages, tea stalls and various industrial and business houses, children workers below the age of 14 can be seen in large numbers. Some of them, both boys and girls are serving as domestic servants in many of the city homes, working themselves to the bone, just for bare survival. The employers are rarely kind to them and they make these little deprived children work much harder than their emaciated bodies can bear. These kids take over all the household chores from cooking to washing to any other back-breaking job – and after doing all that they get nothing but ill-treatment as reward.
They cannot raise their voices in fear and the employers often take full advantage of their poverty and helplessness. In fact, most of the employers prefer little children for petty and hard menial work, since their wages are minimum, and they cannot protest and raise their voices – though they do run away from tyranny sometimes – only to fall into a worse situation – which is like jumping from the frying pan into fire. These children have to bear all sorts of physical and mental torture – and for the girls the situation is much worse – they fall prey to lecherous advances of many lascivious employers. These small children go through a kind of living death, while the society and authority concerned stand by and watch indifferently.
For a nation to be progressive the children must be educated in the proper way, since they are our future. The hope of the country rests on them, some of whom may be one day called to lead the nation. Books are the windows through which they can see the light of this vast world of ours. But the windows are closed to them and they are condemned to live in a dark world, into which not a gleam of light can penetrate.
So much has been said and so much has been written about compulsory education and child labour – though nothing worthwhile has been done to solve the problem of illiteracy. Child labour cannot be wished away and compulsory education cannot be whistled in by waving a magic wand. Sincere efforts and dedicated work are necessary to make the illiterate people realize the value of education for the good of their children.
Unless economic uplift of society at large is ensured, talking about “education for all” is merely a jumble of hollow words without any meaning. It is easy to talk about the value of education – but to translate it into practice is something entirely different.
A collective effort is need of the time.