Educational Institutions & Education System

Nonavailability of educational institutions is an important factor leading to child labour. In case of South Asian region as a whole, universal primary education is not available. In all, about 30 percent of the children of the relevant age group are not enrolled in the schools. It is mainly due to the nonavailability of educational institutions. In case of Pakistan, more than 25 million children are out of schools, a-fifth of boys and half of the girls of 5-9 years are out of school education.

A high dropout is witnessed amongst the students enrolled in primary Schools. This rate is as high as 80 percent in case of Bangladesh, 48 percent in Togo and 31 percent in Mexico. About a-third of the students of primary schools drop out in Pakistan (ILO(92)/P-19 and GOP, 1993). What should these children be doing? The general conclusion that a large number of them, especially the boys, are active in the labour market would not be that wrong.

Poor quality of educational institutions is yet another dimension of the issue. Take for example the case of Pakistan. Besides long distance of schools from the villages, about a-quarter of the existing schools are shelterless (GOP, 1993). Such schools are mostly found in rural areas. Where a school exists, normally it comprises of two rooms accommodating at least five classes. These five classes are managed by two teachers. The situation is aggravated further by the low quality of education and its irrelevance to the labour-market needs. The education system also witnesses a higher failure rates, about half of the students appearing in matric and higher level of examination in Pakistan simply fail. And those who manage to obtain a certificate or degree, by and large, are unable to find employment (NMC, 1989, chapter 5).

These environments then act as a disincentive for parents and students respectively to send their children to schools and pursue education. Instead, they prefer sending children to numerous workplaces especially those carrying an element of nonformal or informal on-the-job training. The traditional system of skills development under “ustad-shagird” (master-craftsman and apprentice), then is more attractive for parents and children than the formal education system. Here, the shagird gets some stipend along with training. And seldom a trained from the system is found as unemployed. This system, however, displays poor even hazardous working conditions.


Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.
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