Children’s Day is universally observed across the globe on November 20 every year, since the past three decades. The UN passed ‘The Convention on the Rights of the Child’ on November 20th, 1989, to embody the entire spectrum of rights towards children. Pakistan validated the convention in 1990.
However, since the legislature has been adopted, the issues of children are in perpetual darkness in Pakistan and the convention has been unable to fulfill its purpose as a redeemer for the children of our country.
Education, security and social rights have been long overshadowed socially as well as politically during the last two decades. Many nations tend to forget the importance of children and what they have to hold for the future of all of us. The government of Pakistan claims that it has been preparing plans to omit the issues related to children but there seems to be no visible progress towards their protection.
Child abuse is routinely practiced in Pakistan while law enforcement agencies ignore children’s plea. The Kasur incident is a case in point here, where our negligence was slapped on our faces with the screams of hundreds of helpless children. Child labor is another norm which is prevalent because of absence of good educational institutions and increasing levels of poverty in Pakistan.
Children are frequently compelled to work instead of being provided with a chance to concentrate on their studies, especially in provincial territories. The childhoods of many individuals has been strangled this way and only God knows how many more dreams would be tarnished before we decide to do something about it.
And those who are being educated are in no better position. A large portion of the state-funded schools are labeled as ghost schools where no satisfactory offices and teaching staffs are accessible. In private and state-funded schools, flogging and verbal misuse is the consequence of brutality among children.
And all this beating up isn’t doing us any good. Pakistan was graded lowest in the Asian Pacific Countries’ School Report Card published in 2005 by the South Asian Pacific Bureau of Adult Education, and little has changed since then. The dismal result comes as no surprise, considering the low investment of less than 2.3 per cent of the GDP on education.
After taking all this into consideration, it’s obvious that there are things we need to learn this Children’s Day from the actions of our own children, who have been braver than most of us.
ARMY PUBLIC SCHOOL (APS) STUDENTS
Perhaps the most tragic incident in Pakistan’s recent history, the deaths of close to 130 children on December 16th, 2014, should have been enough of a lesson to target terrorism more vehemently and strongly. But even today, there are people who side with terrorist outfits in Pakistan. It is our duty, to not let the deaths of these innocent children go in vain.
Keeping aside the vitriol that she has faced, if there is one thing Malala has taught us, it’s that we should always stand up for what’s right, no matter the cost. She has sparked and ignited a fire amongst children, especially in the rural areas, by taking a stand for what she believes and making education the foremost priority for all children – especially the female gender which is neglected to a great extend in Pakistan.
Aitzaz taught us to not only be brave but rekindle the meaning of sacrifice to save others. He died on December 7, 2014 by stopping a suicide bomber from entering a school.
This ingenious teenage girl taught us to believe in our abilities even till the end of your days. She was the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional from Pakistan and she died of epileptic seizures in 2012.
VICTIMS OF POLIO
Children who have suffered from polio have taught us the lesson that negligence is deadlier than ignorance and it is because of them that we need to keep healthcare as our focus to cater for our people.
Sumail Hassan, the 16-year-old Dota2 champion from Pakistan, has taught us that we should pursue whatever we are good at, no matter the odds.
Every child has a right to live his/her life free from violence, including corporal/physical punishment and humiliating and degrading punishment. Every child has a right to a good education, as children are our future and neglecting our own future means that a vision for a better tomorrow will be nothing but a blur.
We request the government to take practical steps to save our future generations.