Education is an important pillar of the foundation for any society, when we discuss children’s education it is more important to remember children who spend most of their life on the streets without any shelter.
Some street children, notably in more developed cities, are part of a subcategory called thrown-away children, consisting of children who have been forced to leave home. Thrown-away children are more likely to come from single-parent homes. Street children are often subject to abuse, exploitation, or, in extreme cases, murder by “clean-up squads” that have been hired by local businesses or police.
In Pakistan, there are various categories of street children, some of them may have very low-paid work such as shining shoes or selling goods on the streets. Some children may scavenge for food or beg. Others are exploited by gangs and criminals in stealing and in prostitution. Their situation and the need to earn money for survival will likely prevent them from being able to access schooling. There are health issues for children who live and work on the streets. The lack of medical care and inadequate living conditions mean they are more susceptible to chronic illnesses.
It’s common for street children to be in unsafe situations. They are frequently harassed or harmed by the police and often find themselves in conflict with the law. As a consequence, many street children use drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, and glue, to help them deal with the hardships they experience.
Education For households who are unable to meet daily meals for their children, education is anything but a priority. A large number of street children are unable to read and write. The few children on the streets who are able to read or write usually do so with the help of non-government organizations focused on teaching street children.
A footpath near the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi converts into a Footpath School. There are red tables and chairs, students and teachers, a 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 lives as many children now have escaped drugs and given up pickpocketing. They can read English sentences, Urdu stories, and do simple mathematics. 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.
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. This is the responsibility of society to take a step forward and contribute to creating more opportunities for street children education, as they can have a future in Pakistan.
Badlay Ga Pakistan’s mission is to create social awareness among masses that are blinded by their self-interest and don’t see the impact of their actions.