A Brief Report by Bilquis Rehman and Kashif Bajeer
Despite allocating Rs21 billion to education department, this financial year in 2017-18, more than 60 lac children’s are out school , and 5483 schools are closed out of 45,555 in Sindh.Instead of announcing emergency in education and receiving the lion’s share of the overall provincial budget, education in Sindh has not shown any improvement. The number of out of school children, drop-out students and levels of learning of school-going children still show no progress. The missing facilities specially water, sanitation and hygiene issues are multiplying with each passing day causing great problems for school going children.Child Rights Movement Sindh ,Civil Society Support Programme and council for the participatory development has launched a Child Rights Situation analysis report today at Karachi.Instead of allocating billions of rupees for development and non-development budget, the condition of children in Sindh remains stagnant. According to Sindh Finance department, Rs869.1 billion were allocated for the financial year 2016-17 sparing Rs225 billion for Annual Development Programs, but Sindh like other sectors has not shown any improvement in child related projects and initiatives.
Child Labour Survey
The seriousness of the government can be gauged from it has allocated Rs54 million to conduct “Child Labour Survey” in the province to ascertain the actual status of children involved in labour in Sindh, but failed to utilized even single penny in 2016-17. The progress report of Finance Department, Government of Sindh revealed that Rs13 million were released and ministry of labour department was supposed to initiate the survey, but all in vain.The representatives of incumbent government in the province has been promising for last nine years to conduct the survey about street as well as runaway children, but it also could not see light of the day.In budget books for year 2016-17, the provincial government also kept Rs314 million for establishment and strengthening of “DarulAtfal and Rehabilitation of Street Children Through Civil Society Organizations in Korangi”. This scheme falls under the domain of Social Welfare Department. The books revealed that out of the total amount allocated for the purpose, the government had to utilize Rs7.5 million, but I could only spend Rs0.157 million. Similarly, government had to establish DarulAman at Mirpurkhas and Jacobabad districts with total estimated cost Rs89 million. In this regard, Rs1.5 million were also released, but status of the utilization stands at Rs0.7million. The government in last year budget had also devised a plan to strengthen and update existing rehabilitation center for physically handicapped children throughout Sindh. The scheme that comes in the remit of social welfare department was also approved with a total cost of Rs199 million and Rs57 million were supposed to spend in 2016-17, but it only utilized Rs8 million. The schemes are in doldrums. The construction of boundary wall of rehabilitation center for handicapped children at SBA and DarulAtfal, Hyderabad and rehabilitation center for multiple handicapped children at Naushero Feroze and KamberShahdadkot were among other schemes which could not be initiated.In last year, budget, government also approved a scheme “Baby Care Centers” three in Karachi and one each at divisional headquarters in Sindh including Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkar and Larkana. It was part of Women Development Department. In this respect a total Rs95 million were allocated for this scheme sparing Rs45 million to be utilized in 2016-17 on it, but only government used Rs1.1 million on it. The schemes are now lying idle. Women development department is among other neglected departments in Sindh government where meager budget is allocated. The example can be quoted here that a total development budget of this department was not more than Rs426 million.
Nutrition Support Program
Similarly, the government had earmarked Rs3000 million for “Nutrition Support Program” and it had to spend Rs1000 million in financial year 2016-17, but unfortunately, not a single penny was released and utilized. According to concerned officials, the scheme was un-approved and there were technical reasons which delayed in spending the funds. The overall goal of the Nutrition Support Program Sindh (NSP) is to improve the nutritional status of male and female children under five years and that of pregnant and lactating women, with a priority focus on malnourished amongst the poor and other disadvantaged, including women, the girl-child, children with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, and socially marginalized occupational and settler groups in nine districts of Sindh province.
Pakistan is facing tremendous challenges in the education sector, with 25 million children not attending schools at all. Official record shows that this figure has remained mostly unchanged since 2005 educational experts are of the opinion that come December 31, 2015, Pakistan would have missed each one of its Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs) to achieve universal primary school access, improve retention in school and increase adult literacy.Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2013-14, Pakistan’s progress on the education front has been severely lagging.Sindh and Balochistan are home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children. As many as 66% of children in Balochistan and 51% in Sindh are out of school, followed by Punjab and K-P with 47% and 34% out-of-school children respectively. In the Federally Administered Tribal areas Areas (FATA), 62% are out of school, while in Gilgit-Baltistan 48% are are out of school. Some 43% of such children live in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.Instead of announcing emergency in education and receiving the lion’s share of the overall provincial budget, education in Sindh has not shown any improvement. The number of out of school children, drop-out students and levels of learning of school-going children still show no progress. The missing facilities specially water, sanitation and hygiene issues are multiplying with each passing day causing great problems for school going children.According to budget papers, the government had kept Rs17 billion in annual development program in 2016-17 and this amount has now been increased to Rs21 billion this year (2017-18), which include Rs11 billion for schools, Rs5 billion for colleges and Rs3.6 billion for boards and universities. The assessment report of year 2016-17 released by Finance Department, Government of Sindh revealed 0% utilisation of 346 schemes’ funds in the education and health departments in the last nine months.
The unconfirmed report pouring in suggested that more than 7000 schools are lying idle in entire province. But officials figure released by education department said there are 5,384 closed schools in the province. During a recent meeting at CM House, officials however informed that following the ‘education emergency declared by government in the province, around 1,461 schools have been reopened.
Officials point out that the closed schools lacked complete infrastructure, furniture and other necessary facilities. Education minister once acknowledging failure on the part of his department said “Even if 50% of the budgetary allocations [for development, repair and maintenance] are fairly spent, no school [in Sindh] will have remained without roof and boundary walls,” education minister said.According to provincial government survey 22 per cent primary schools have no building, 86 per cent lack electricity, 46 per cent have no latrine and there is no provision of drinking water in 51 present of schools.In Sindh there are a total 11.9 million children between the ages of five and 16, of which 6.66 million are out of school. It summarized that 55.6% of the province’s children are out of school. The dropout rate at primary levels was 12.6% between 2014 and 2015 and every year it is reduced by 3%. In 2016-17 there were 45,555 schools in the province, of which 42,383 are viable and 3172 nonviable. According to official data released by education department, overall enrolment in 2015-16 was 4,145,219, which was increased to 4,229,128 in 2016-17. This shows a difference of 83,909 or a 2% increase. While the enrolment rate increased, the number of teachers decreased, as in 2015-16 there were 156,216 teachers employed, which reduced to 150,787 in 2016-17. The 5,429 teachers retired or resigned due to the implementation of the biometric attendance system.Despite chief minister’s directives, the education department has not yet selected 15,000 primary and 1000 secondary and higher secondary schools to be designated as model schools in the province where government ought to provide missing facilities.Government claimed that the enrolment target for primary education was fixed at 77% against which 65% has been achieved. The enrolment target for middle schools was set at 45% and 35% has been achieved, while the target for secondary education was fixed at 35% and 25% was achieved. Education Minister Dahar said that most school buildings in the province are in a dilapidated condition and therefore dangerous. The recent rain further damaged the structures, he said, adding that a survey of damaged and dangerous school buildings was conducted by the education works department in September, soon after the rain, in which 6,157 buildings were deemed damaged or dangerous. “Around Rs17.28 billion is required to repair or reconstruct the buildings,” the education minister said.The government must improve the quality education by appointing teachers on merit, bringing reforms in education curriculum and fulfilling the missing facilities, which is the main reason of drop out of schools.
Health related budget for children
In health sector, the government has also earmarked Rs422 million for strengthening and improvement of National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Karachi, which is the only largest child hospital in public sector in Sindh. This schemes continues for last a few years and government has only spent Rs7.2 million on it. The seriousness of government can have measured from the fact that there are only 15 ventilators in the hospitals rest of children in critical condition are referred to private hospitals where people are compelled to bear heavy cost ranging from Rs20,000 to Rs40,000 per day.There is also budget provision for establishment of Child Health Care Institute, Sukkur. The government has to start the construction this year of out of a total Rs162 million, nothing has been released and utilized.
Child Survival Program in Sindh
Despite government’s tall claims, the ongoing human tragedy deaths of children in Sindh speciallyTharparkar shows no sign of abating. There is no lack of fund, lack of will on the part of concerned authorities and officials are contributing factors behind unabated deaths of minors. The government has launched Child Survival Program in Sindh with estimated cost of Rs59 million which aims at supporting health interventions to help end premature birth of child and maternal deaths. Under this program government has also to focus on increasing coverage and utilization of high-quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health interventions at household, community and health facility levels. But these objectives seem to be a distant dream seemingly because government does not look serious in achieving the same.
Maternal Neonatal Child Health Program in Sindh (MNCH)
This program is originally designed to improve service delivery mechanism for reducing preventable diseases. The vision of the strategic framework is “of a society where no family suffers the loss of a mother or newborn due to preventable or treatable causes”. The Framework pledges to ensure availability of high quality MNCH services to all, especially for the poor and the disadvantaged. The Framework aims to improve the accessibility of high quality and effective MNCH services for all, particularly the poor and the disadvantaged, through development and implementation of sustainable provincial and district programs. International Goals Pakistan is signatory to several international agreements regarding improving MNCH. In budget for year 2016-17, the government had allocated Rs198 million, but could only spend Rs95 million amid the media reports of grave irregularities in the funds.
In health department budget, there is provision to establish maternity homes in various areas of Karachi including PIB Colony, Soilder Bazar, Patel Para and Jahangir Road. In this respect, government has put a total Rs199 million of which Rs38 million has so far been utilized.A part from this, the government had to establish a separate Paeds cardiac unit at NIVCD, Karachi. According to budget books for the year 2016-17, health department allocated Rs1741 million for it, but this project is still in hangs and balance. The record shows that finance department has also released Rs100 million with directives from chief minister to expedite the process to establish cardiac unit for children, but concern authorities are not serious to take it up.The construction of Mother and Child health Centers (MCHCs) have been planned in 2016-17 budget in various areas of Dadu district with estimated cost of Rs60 million. Nut not a single penny has so far been released and utilized for it.
Sindh Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2013’
In 2013, Sindh became the first province to make a law providing free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16 years.Under ‘Sindh Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2013’, Sindh once again took the lead in implementing Article 25-A of the Constitution, which ensures that education remains a fundamental right of every child.According to the law, all children whose parents cannot afford to pay for education, or have become victims of terrorism shall be enrolled for free in private schools. Every private schools is bound to provide free-of-cost education to 10% of their actual strength of enrollment to underprivileged students.After the law every school has to constitute a management committee of government representatives, teachers and school principals to ensure that the policy is implemented. Both the school management and the parents can be fined or imprisoned if the law is not followed. Even after the passage of four years, this extra ordinary law is yet to implemented in Sindh. No one cares to implement on it and private schools bluntly violate this law.
Children are the most vulnerable segment of the society and there are host of issues confronted by them. Child labour, brick kiln bondage, domestic slavery, corporal punishment, trafficking, prostitution, sexual abuse and many other crimes against children are perpetuated every day due to the negligence of the state as well as poor enforcement of laws.The government allocates budgets, but its utilization is big challenge for it. There are a number of child related projects where “zero” pre cent amount has been utilized, which shows the government’s intention to resolve the children issues in Sindh. Every year hundreds of children die in Sindh, Kohistan, Katchho and other far flung areas in the province, but there is no proper plan with authorities to get rid of the situation. The education, health, social welfare department, home department are among other governments key departments where billions of rupees’ funds are allocated for the welfare of children, education and their health etc. But budget progress in 2016-17 shows that utilization of the is big issue. Though the government has declared “emergency” in two important sectors such as health and education, but it is confined to only announcement and papers.It has been witnessed in many cases that the concerned officials don’t not release funds in ten months of fiscal years and show the expenses in the end of every year, which cast doubt on the intention of people sitting in power corridors. In the end, the quality of education and health play key role in the development of society. There is dire need to utilize the funds and devise a mechanism to start accountably of it. Child Survival Program in Sindh, Health related budget for children, Nutrition support program are among other projects, which have not seen light of the day. Similarly, the government has failed to implement on law pertaining to children. Sindh Assembly took lead in passing “Child Marriage Law” in the province in April 2014 declaring marriage below the age of 18 punishable by law. Three years have passed since the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2014 was passed but the Sindh government has yet to properly implement it. In 2013, Sindh became the first province to make a law providing free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16 years, but no one implement on it. A part from this, there has been no progress in the adoption of laws meant for child rights in country as urged by UN committees and forums etc. The Juvenile Justice System Ordinance passed in 2000, no free legal aid has been provided to children in the jails. There is dire need for the awareness of parliamentarians and civilians on child rights. Among other things, there should be a task comprising parliamentarians and people from different walks of life to bring uniformity in the policies in Sindh on child rights. More Remand Homes be built at district level. government must devise a mechanism to provide any help on child rights. The office of Provincial ombudsman receives many complaints on child right violence by the parents or organization working on child rights. But there is no mechanism to provide any help on child rights violence. Even no fact finding or rehabilitation mechanism is available at ombudsman level. The ombudsman has to rely on the narratives of both the parties and or any documents available while no investigative mechanism is available.No new youth offender’s industrial units, remand home have been constructed to house the increasing number of youth offender. only old one remand house at Karachi is functioning. so necessary survey of jails may be carried out to ascertain the number of youth offenders and demand may be made to government to construct new YOIU, and remand homes as per the data compiled. Funds may be allocated for JJSO penal established in Bar Councils of Sindh.Some years back, the National Commission on Child Welfare and Development was handed over to the Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, in a bid to save it from being rendered defunct by the 18th Amendment. NCCWD is now under the Ministry of Human Rights, but has still not produced a national policy for child welfare and development, or any effective mechanisms for child protection. The provincial as well as federal governments continue to rely on a colonial approach and are not interested in police reforms or training to implement best practices to protect children as required under international, national and provincial laws.
Child Marriages and Forced Conversion/Marriage
Child marriage bill has passed by Sindh Government in 2014 but after passing three years there has been no implementation has been seen. Like child labour it is going on the same way and girls are continuously in the trap of illiteracy, coercion and poverty because of this illogical custom. While Force Conversion of young hindu girls is on the peak, which still need serious attention by Government by punishing the culprits and also to implement law of child marriages.We demand Government for all above issues to be tackle immediately in the care taker setup and urge political parties to keep these issues in their party manifesto.