The term ‘street children’ include children who either spend the night on the streets, or their livelihood depends on the streets or there are some who work whole day out and return back in the night at home, but there are many children who are homeless and we can found them living, working and begging around everywhere in the country as these street children growing despite efforts to provide basic education and aid and shelter to them. The street children otherwise spend the day selling goods and services and often involved in crimes and use drugs. It is seen that most of these do not want to work but rather wants to study regularly.
A footpath near the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, Karachi converts into a Footpath School. There are red tables and chairs, students and teachers, microphone and blackboards, pencils and books. In the evening students disperse, teachers go home, and the table and chairs get packed into trucks. This is a wonderful idea to teach street children in a nice atmosphere.
It is estimated that around 400 street children are receiving education at the Footpath School. Some of them are living by selling shopping bags at the nearby Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine and in the meantime spend their time doing Mathematics and English practice at the football school. The school has changed many such live as many children now have escaped drugs and given up pick pocketing. They can read English sentences, Urdu stories and do simple mathematics. A remarkable progress was made considering they have been in school for only two years. They get lunch and Rs50 every day. They have now a new life.
In the same way one of the lady teacher who started teaching street children with placing a mat underneath the Clifton bridge surprisingly found many of these children show interest in studying. The student numbers are increasing now and the mats were replaced by tables and chairs. She even hired teachers, a guard and helpers black boards and microphones. Moreover her students’ shabby clothes were replaced by clean blue and white uniforms.
An estimated 1.2 million children are on the streets of Pakistan’s major cities and urban centers. Most such children are between the ages of 9 to 15 years. They earn a monthly income of Rs 4,000 a month. Estimates suggest 25 million children in Pakistan are out of school. Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Children (SPARC) estimates around 25,000 homeless children in the provincial capital alone.
It is to be noted that street children, have been rising owing to poverty, unemployment, and displacement from the areas hit by climate change. In 2007, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) estimated that there are 25,000 homeless children in Karachi alone. But, no one dared to count the numbers since then.
In Karachi, most of these street children are between ages of 7 to 17. They live near shrines, religious places, and areas with a large number of food shops as they rely on charity. And whenever the city is closed most of these children sleep with empty stomach.
The street children have become a serious issue that needs to be resolved now. No accurate data is available on the number and conditions of the street children. They are seen in every corner of the urban cities. This is the state of affairs of the countless thousands of children living and working on streets across the country. Some have been eliminated by their families because of deplorable poverty hunger and disease.
Once on the street, they are almost certain to be subjected to further abuse. The International Day for Street Children was marked on April 12. The rally of any note was held in Hyderabad, where members of the Child Rights Movement and the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child brought out scores of these unfortunate youngsters.
In Pakistan where children’s right to education is constitutionally protected, the federal and provincial bureaucracies have consistently failed this segment of society. It is the state that must be blamed for the sad circumstances these children face.
Recently the Chairman Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has stressed that federal and provincial governments should carry out special initiatives to bring nation’s 1.5 million street children into the mainstream enabling them to contribute their full potential for the country’s progress.
On the International Day for Street Children being observed in many countries in the world, the PPP Chairman said that it was the responsibility of the state and the government to provide equal and adequate facilities to street children. “It is terrible that over 100 million children are growing up in the urban streets of the world and 1.5 million of them are in Pakistan alone”, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out and stressed for legislation to facilitate them to become responsible and potential citizens of the country.